Monday, February 01, 2021

How to Conquer Writers Block


As writer's we all know how hard it can be, at the best of times.  Battling your subconscious, thinking your book won't be good enough.  Then there's the wall.

Not every writer hits the wall in the same place, some discover it at the very beginning of a project, others discover part way through, and there are those writers that find they can't finish a project because of it.  Whether it's writing a book or copywriting, passing the last hurdle can turn into a monumental challenge.  Let's face it, finishing a manuscript can be just as difficult as starting one, with the added pressure of the text going to an editor. 

It's difficult to know what is worse, the beginning or the end.  Often the end can seem mammoth when you're writing a book and filling it with enough useful words to fill a paperback.  

Failure Shapes You as a Writer

But don't be afraid of failure, because writing is a never ending process of learning, and the best way to do that is by making mistakes.  If you can get used to the process, the easier your writing journey will be.

Don't lose heart if you find you can't finish something you started.  Sometimes things take longer than you would like.  But that's okay, because you may finish a manuscript and think it's all wrong, and in that case you need to go back to the drawing board and start all over again.  After all, writing is never cut and dry.  You could have a problem with a character or plot not fitting your vision of the book, and you feel you need to make some major changes that will require starting over again.  

Running Out of Steam

Once you find out you have a problem, then you need to work out how you're going to fix it.  Can your manuscript be fixed if certain paragraphs, sentences, or even chapters have been taken out?   These are all things you need to think about. 

But don't despair when this happens, because you may be able to use your characters and ideas again,  so nothing is wasted.  Plus you've learned something new about writing, in that not every project is going to go the way you want it to go, even when it feels right in the beginning.

How to Move Past Writers Block

First of all don't be despondent with your predicament, it's quite normal to have a few days, or even weeks that feel like you've hit a wall.

So put all of your guilt and negative feelings aside and ask yourself how you can break through that wall.

Breaking Through the Wall

Don't Be So Hard On Yourself, Make Writing Fun Again

Look at your manuscript through a new lens, pretend you're writing a fairy tale or something along those lines.  Fairy tales are a great way of making writing fun, and hark back to the days of the Brothers Grimm.  This way you can let your imagination run wild.

Rekindle Your Passion

Think of all the reasons why you started writing your nonfiction book or novel in the first place.  Make a list of the things that really ignite your passion.  List all the things that really matter to you as a writer and what is needed to write a really good story.

This is where a notebook and pen come in handy to write your thoughts straight down on paper.  You can write down your feelings, even doodle if that helps with your creativity.

These are things you can fall back on if you need to for another time, or things you might want to include in your book.  Either way don't waste your ideas.  

If you're storytelling, take a leaf out of the book of the professional script writers on TV and film.  List all of the things you like about the story, how it makes you feel, and where it takes you.  

Pick out the small details, this might be things like:

  • A magic wardrobe
  • Talking lion
  • Dark dungeon
  • Silk handkerchief

These items aren't silly things, these are important things that only you need to know, and are kept written in your notebook.

You may already have a story idea from those items, try writing a short story or vignette.

Allow your mind to run free, then start researching the things you want to know more information about.  Ask yourself simple questions like 'What?', 'When?', 'how?', and 'why?.'

Acknowledge Your Own Self-Censorship

Don't ever feel embarrassed when you're writing a story or nonfiction, these are all your own thoughts, and people gravitate to things that feel real, especially in writing.  Feeling exposed is all part of the writing process, and that's what will really help connect you with your readers.

Change Your Point of View

If you're writing fiction, and you're stuck and not sure where to go next, try changing your point of view.  Try things like putting yourself in your character's shoes, and try going into your character's head.  Often, just imagining what they're thinking is enough to trigger something in your imagination to move on with your manuscript.

Look at Your Character Archetypes from a Different Perspective

Think of your characters, the hero or heroine, and the baddie, look at what their part is in the story and what their end goals are in the story.  Can you change up the story if you altered things?

Take Yourself Away from Writing to Blow the Cobwebs Away

Give yourself a change of scenery, a breath of fresh air.  Anything to take you away from your desk, and writing.  Blow those cobwebs away.  Do simple activities that leave plenty room for thinking, but won't detract from the task in hand. 

Different Approaches to Your Writing

There are so many different approaches you can take to writing, some already tried and tested, others you may have already discovered.  But there's no harm in trying a few new ones along the way.  Don't despair when the worst happens, you'll get through it, and find new ways of dealing with the tough stuff.

When You've Run Out of Gas

If you haven't already, you could make gathering ideas a regular part of your writing routine.  You can do this by making simple notes, or training your brain to take notice of interesting things.  Some authors make a point of finding ideas throughout their day, and keep notes to be used at a later date.

You could start by making a list of interesting things you notice about your environment, and go really deeply into detail.  Even if it's just a bee landing on a flower, or the way the waves sound.

You Can't Start a New Book, Because You Haven't Finished Your Previous One

Often life gets in the way, along with stress, anxiety, and depression.  These things can often knock you right off course, to the point of not knowing which way to turn.  Being creative all of the time often takes its toll, you just have to know how to manage it, and not take heart to all of the other stuff that stops you from being creative. 

We're all creative in different ways, and creativity will always come back, it just means you need to take a step back for a little while, and maybe do some blogging or writing that isn't as taxing.  Maybe look into other avenues, literature or art to help refuel your creativity.  Blogging is a great way to keep your hand in, while you're giving your brain a rest on the bigger stuff like book writing.  You could think about changing gears and genres, try writing about something completely different.  

The main point is to keep yourself well filled with new ideas, and rest when you need to.  Not to worry if your well runs dry, but to take time out when you need to.

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Read more:

How to Prepare Yourself as a Writer

How to Accept Your Writing Anxiety, and Spend Time on the Craft

Why All Writers Should Set Goals

How to Overcome Your Writing Fear With Mind Games

Find Your Writing Hero

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