The number one cause of writer’s block is you.
There are many views on why writer’s block strikes. Creative writers constantly tap into our imaginations. It’s a wondrous place to roam around; we could spend hours here on a daily basis. It’s not daydreaming; we promise it’s research.
Drafting ideas for a story is the easy part. Structuring them into a coherent and entertaining masterpiece is a little trickier. We’re bound to go through dry spells from time to time. External factors have a huge impact on our writing.
Whether you’re a full-time writer or you write in your spare time, there are a million other things vying for your attention. Your children require anything from food to kissing an ‘ouchy’, your laundry is the size of a small mountain (and so are your bills). Then, of course, coffee.
Mostly, it’s a matter of readjusting our schedules or taking a break to clear our muddled thoughts. Here are my top tips to combat this type of writer’s block.
Stop staring at your screen. Your mind has gone blank and that’s okay. You’re human. A change of scenery may help you. Go for a walk and look around. Is there anything on your route that brings you joy? You may be surrounded by buildings, street lights, grass fields. It doesn’t matter. Find the beauty in something and smile. Mood elevation causes a change in perspective. Suddenly what seemed like a huge plot hole is only a minor road bump.
Have a Conversation with Someone
Whether it’s through the online writing community, or a face-to-face conversation with someone you trust, talking through the problem may be the trick. Your listener doesn’t have to add to the conversation. Hearing yourself talk out loud about your plot problem may trigger a solution. Don’t forget to thank your other pair of ears; even if all they have done is smile and nod during your ramblings.
Have a Conversation with Your Main Character
Write a dialogue only. Don’t worry about anything else, that will come later. Your main character is interacting with someone in order to progress to the next scene. Who are they talking to? What are they saying? Once you have their conversation down, read it back. You’ll start imagining where they are, how they’re behaving. When you’re ready, you can add the rest. Your characters may even take you somewhere you didn’t intend and your story will be all the better for it. You don’t need to thank your characters, they’re fictional. They may appreciate it, all the same.
Read Someone Else’s Story
Writer’s cannot expect to create decent material without learning from others. Read more, write better. You may choose a book within your genre but it doesn’t have to be. My favorite book is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and I’m writing a fantasy novel. Curling up with a good book is guaranteed to lift your mood and spark some inspiration.
Trying any or all of these techniques will hopefully enable the words to start flowing again and all will be right in your imaginary world. But then, there are the other times.
Writer’s Block Caused by Procrastination
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice I constantly joke about finding new ways to procrastinate (hello, Pinterest). I’m not alone in this. Why do we find ourselves sitting in front of our screens, ready to write, but instead of typing up the next bestseller, hours are lost scrolling and hashtagging?
This type of writer’s block is caused by you alone. Procrastination, also known as the fear of moving forward with your story.
We all know the first draft isn’t the finished manuscript. It’s messy and most of it doesn’t make sense. And that’s okay. But what happens when you’ve written the first draft, along with the second and you’re experiencing a block?
If you believe everything you read on social media (and let’s face it, we tend to) most writers send their manuscripts out to beta readers after their second or third draft. These drafts are considered reader-worthy and the writer only wants feedback from a small pool of select readers to make sure their plot is tied up in a pretty little bow.
There will be no bow for my second draft. I’m pretty sure the only type of bondage coming anywhere near my third draft is heavy-duty Tippex. I’m joking; it’s all computerized. Be kind to the environment; don’t print out 300 pages worth of typos and poor grammar. The trees will come back and haunt you.
I love Instagram. It’s my go-to when I’m stuck on a piece of writing. The online writing community is full of amazing support. Hearing success stories from our peers is encouraging and as I’ve mentioned above, sharing our struggles and receiving feedback makes these platforms highly resourceful. The downside to reading everyone else’s success stories is not allowing frustration to seep in.
When it’s time to write, the words won’t come. So, what do we do? If you decide not to listen to my above advice, you may go back online and find out how far everyone else is progressing with their stories. And this is extremely tempting. The cycle of procrastination, frustration and writer’s block continues until you eventually begin to wonder if you have what it takes to write a novel.
Do you want to know what the solution is? You.
Stop berating yourself about how much slower your writing journey is taking. Don’t compare yourself to others. Turn off your phone. Delete the apps… temporarily.
Start thinking about why you started writing. What drew you to the story you’ve started? Read a favourite passage you’ve written. Think about what you want from the story – not what others may want. They don’t matter – not at this stage. You’re the one writing it, you’ve got to enjoy reading it.
If you’re experiencing a form of writer’s block, I encourage you to try these techniques out. I’d love to hear if they help you. You will find me on Instagram, more than likely procrastinating.
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