20 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block pt. 1/2   2 comments

by Elizabeth Huff

Writer’s block is something that many of us struggling writers have had to deal with. I don’t really have any original ideas on how to get over it. In other words you can Google this and get these same answers. The reason I’m writing these posts is because much of the advice given only goes over a couple of solutions. I hope to go over most of them. The posts are broken up into 20 suggestions each because it’s more manageable that way 🙂 .

  • Exercise – This one seems to help a lot of people, myself included. Any form of exercise or physical exertion helps get the brain juice flowing, so next time your mind comes up blank try going for a walk.
  • Take a Break – I like to think of this one as getting completely away from writing for a while. Do a chore or run an errand, anything to relieve your mind of the stress of coming up with an idea. Keep yourself from getting overwhelmed.
  • Write Something Else – Switching between writing projects , especially if the styles or genres vary, can help with the flow of ideas. It can also help you to look at your writing in a new way.
  • Read – I have heard that reading a couple of pages out of a book can help you get into the creative spirit. For me personally, it doesn’t work so well because I am to easily distracted by what I read, and to likely to forget to go back to writing. If you have the willpower, however, you should give it a try.
  • Switch Writing Locations – Most people don’t write in a vacuum. Who we are around, the places we choose to write, the time of day, etc. all affect the type of writing we do and the ability we have to do it. The next time you have writer’s block try writing somewhere else.
  • Create a Writing Schedule – From what I can tell, creating a writing schedule is more to prevent the dreaded block than cure it. From my experience this works best if the rest of your life is, for the most part, structured and stable. Since I have varied hours for my day job there are only a few hours I know I won’t have to work, and I have other things to think of. Sometimes the best I can do is tell myself I WILL write that day, although I don’t know when or how much.
  • Think about Titles – It doesn’t matter what kind of work the title is for, just that it speaks to you as a writer and sparks your imagination. Type a random word into the search engine of Amazon, browse the shelves at your local library, or check out your own dvd selection. Make sure you write down any ideas the titles generate.
  • Outlining – I realize that some people hate outlining, but I love it. Personally, I use a simple bullet point format so I can easily switch around events in the story as needed.
  • Talk to Someone – I am usually a little secretive about my writing, but once in a while I like to run things by my sister. She can provide me ideas, asks questions about things that I hadn’t considered, and be a general sounding board that can help me get re-energized and excited about a stale idea.
  • Prepare Ideas in Advance – Keeping an idea book is a great idea. You just scribble down ideas or random thoughts as they come to you. You might consider having several to keep in different locations (your car, work, home, etc.). Not only does it give you something to write about when you sit down, but reading through old ideas can be a great way to help with brainstorming new ideas.
  • Set Deadlines – This may cause unnecessary tension for some people, but others thrive on deadlines. Give it a try, but remember don’t be to hard on yourself if you can’t stick to it. If writing were easy, everyone would do it. (That’s what I tell myself anyway).
  • Write a Set Number of Words – If you set a minimum number of words to write a day, then it will become a habit. Having a certain number of words to write can also help to reduce the tension of confronting the blank page. Just make sure you don’t limit yourself and feel free to keep writing if you are moved to.
  • CIA Profile – I don’t know what this technique is actually called, so I am naming it myself. In this exercise you watch strangers and come up with a “CIA Profile” of the subject. Age, race, sex, marital status, job, background, everything. If nothing else it will make for a thorough random character in a story later on.
  • The “What If” Questions – Again, I’m not sure what this is actually called. This is a simple technique and it starts to become a habit after a while. You take an ordinary event and start to ask “What If” questions. What if I stepped outside and everyone had disappeared? What if I was abducted on my way to work? What if I found a lucky penny in the hallway? Write down your questions and see if your inspired by any of them.
  • Set the Mood – Just like switching locations, this can help you get into your story. Whether it’s the time of day, decorations, music, etc.
  • Tap Into Your Dark Side – Western culture is very fond of happy endings, but life doesn’t always end with happily ever after. Try writing about the misunderstood villain who never manages to get what he wants, or turn that sappy ending you read about into something tragic.
  • Try a Different POV – If your main characters are normally young men, try writing from the point of view of an old woman, or a dog, or a flower that sits on the windowsill day after day. See if you can freshen up old ideas by changing the focus of the story.
  • Use Everyday Objects – The general idea is that there is writing fodder to be found in everything. What if that toaster came to life? What if the person who made your carpet started to realize that his customers were dying off one by one? Why not write an article about how pillows were invented, or a manual for aliens on how to use the toilet?
  • Keep a Dialogue Journal – Write down snippets of conversation you overhear and review them. Do they spark any story ideas? Mix up conversations from random people and see if you can make them make sense.
  • Reread What You Have Written – Especially if you are picking up from what you have written the previous day, going back over what you have written can help get you back into the story and characters. You can also catch mistakes you have made when you reread with fresh eyes. Beware falling into the trap of spending all your time editing when you should be writing.

Have you tried any of these methods and what were the results?

Check out part 2 of the list


Posted April 11, 2012 by Elizabeth Huff in General Writing

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2 responses to “20 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block pt. 1/2

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  1. Lots of great advice 🙂

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