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Two poisonous, hateful words for many writers. Some say it doesn’t exist, and some say it plagues them daily, which is why they’ve never gotten beyond the first chapter of something. As an author myself, I can personally say that I have experienced writer’s block on occasion, and experimented with ways to overcome it. Fighting writer’s block is possible, but it usually requires two things: diligence, and doing another activity.
Here are my 10 tried-and-true tips for fighting writer’s block.
1. Listen to music. Music can be incredibly inspirational at times when you feel things aren’t flowing. Put on some music you enjoy, close your eyes, and drift. Think about potential upcoming scenes, and if they don’t come—that’s all right. They will eventually.
2. Watch a movie that inspires you. You’ve probably heard that quote, “write what you want to read.” I think that watching movies with storylines that you enjoy, and that capture your interest, can help to shape your own storylines. For me, it was “The Hunger Games” movie while I wrote my YA fantasy novel, “The Charismatics.” I was inspired by Katniss Everdeen’s plight for those who were suffering, and her rebellious nature, in part because my book also included those elements.
3. Read books that inspire you. This is similar to watching a movie that you like, but I think that when you read books it can be with a couple of mindsets—you can be analytical of the style and rhythm of the writing, or you can just read for the pure joy of it. Either way, I think both can be helpful in freeing you from writer’s block and getting inspired enough to return to your own pages. Just be sure not to compare yourself to the author’s work—that’s a surefire way to let self-doubt dampen your progress.
4. Go outside. Every parent on Earth has probably said, “Fresh air is good for you, so go outside.” And there is truth to that. Sitting at a desk for hours can lead to dullness of the brain, and sometimes some sunlight or moonlight or rain or snow or just leaving your office for a short time can allow you to unwind and recharge.
5. Go on a trip. I wrote a post about this on my blog, entitled “Heal Your Spirit To Write Your Book.” It’s been quite popular, and I think that’s because a lot of creative people can identify with the need to literally step out of your immediate surroundings for an extended time to allow some breathing room. It’s how I came up with the climax to “The Charismatics,” which is an ending with a twist that I am very proud of—all because I took a little break for a few days. Read the post here: http://www.ashleyrcarlson.com/blog/heal-your-spirit-to-write-your-book
6. Keep writing to see if you find a path. Sometimes, you just need to keep writing when the block hits. Continue to write the words down, because guess what? You can always delete them. I’ve done this in the past and though I may have had to scrap a few thousand words, I eventually got on the right track to where my book needed to go. Plus, this can be invigorating because you are not giving up!
7. Try writing something new. Your current manuscript growing stale, or stressing you out? WRITE SOMETHING ELSE. Find a prompt online, or just think of another fun idea you want to explore that has nothing to do with your current story. It’s a great way to let those creative juices flow in another direction, and hopefully put you in the right mindset with the piece that was giving you issues.
8. Do something you enjoy, and describe it in a way you might write it. Eat a meal you love, go for a walk in a park, listen to a beautiful piece of music. Describe out loud what it makes you feel like, sounds like, tastes like, looks like—the way you would if you were writing it down. This can be another great way to get back into a creative mindset and see if the words start to flow again.
9. Look at the website “Better Novel Project” for ideas. A fellow writer friend of mine has created a wonderful website called “Better Novel Project,” in which she breaks down some of the most popular YA series (The Hunger Games series, Harry Potter Series, and Twilight series) and similar scenes that appear in each one. During my writing of “The Charismatics’” first draft, if I was stuck about where to take the story next, I would consult Better Novel Project’s “Master Outline” for ideas. It helped me on numerous occasions, and now some of my favorite scenes were inspired by this site’s resources. Here’s the link: www.betternovelproject.com.
10. Write on a whiteboard/outline your next scene. One of my favorite tools while writing my novel was my whiteboard, and it was especially useful when I was experiencing writer’s block. It’s a great and easy way to jot down ideas and examine the next scene before writing words you may end up deleting later (although that’s fine to do too).
There you have it—ten tips for evading writer’s block. Now go forth and write, and until next time, keep writing and keep dreaming!