10 Ways to Shatter Writer's Block

by Marg McAlister

 

1. Use Logic: Check for External Pressures

Are you under physical or emotional stress? Is your diet lacking? Do you need more sleep, or more restful sleep? Would a visit to the doctor be in order before you start beating yourself up about your inability to concentrate?

2. Start brainstorming

Jot down all the possible plot permutations you can think of. At first, these will be fairly logical. Then, as you run out of options, you'll find that you start to come up with more off-the- wall ideas. These might be just what you need to get you going again.

3. Ease into your writing

Start your writing session with something that's 'easy' - a letter, a shopping list, a recipe, a 'to do' list. Then move on to a brief session of free writing. THEN go back to your story. You may find, as others have in the past, that a half-hour session of writing in a journal or diary is a good warm-up for a writing session.

4. Take some time out

Only you know how much time this should be. Sometimes the subconscious simply needs time to work its magic. That might be a day, a week or a month. Obey your instincts. You might think that the danger is you'll never get back to it. Okay: perhaps that means you don't LIKE it enough to get back to it. Writing shouldn't be a penance. Find a job or a hobby that you DO like.

5. Revisit the last few pages

Go back ten or twenty pages and revise. You could even retype the last page completely, and see if that releases new ideas.

6. Use the tried and true 'carrot' trick. Reward yourself!

Think of something you'd really, really like. (Of course, the family might object if you want to reward yourself for your diligence with a trip to Bali.) A chocolate? A trip to see a movie? Dinner out? New clothes? Set yourself a task that is commensurate with the size of the reward - and DO IT.

7. Pressure Cooker Tactics

Some of us work well only under pressure. You'll probably know if this applies to you by thinking back to how you handled homework, assignments and exams at school. If you can produce when the pressure's on, then set yourself a deadline. Don't make that deadline too unrealistic, though, or you may find that you're setting yourself up for failure - again.

8. Change the time and venue

J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in extended stints in a cafe (or so the story goes). Roald Dahl worked in a battered garden shed. Try changing the venue or the time of your writing - from home to a library; from late evenings to early morning; from the kitchen table to a table in the corner of your bedroom.

9. Meditate or go walking

Sometimes it helps to get out in the fresh air, or to sit quietly and move into a meditative state and just let the ideas flow. Or not flow. Perhaps what you need is to dissociate yourself from the world for a while.

10. KEEP walking... remember Forrest Gump...

Don't want to write any more at all? OK. Then walk away and keep walking. Nobody said you have to write. Why write if it makes you miserable? It may ALWAYS make you miserable. If that's the case, don't do it. It really is that simple.

Or...it may be making you miserable NOW, but you loved it in the past and you expect you will again. If so, walk away just for a while. Give yourself an extended break - and only go back to the keyboard when you just can't stay away any longer. That's the best cure there is for writer's block.

(c) copyright Marg McAlister

 

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