So what do you do when you’re stuck? Here are some great tips for overcoming the dreaded writer’s block.
Join the club that knows how to defeat those obstacles and has learned to look forward, not back:
1. Acknowledge the feelings and try to get to the root of them: Are you nervous, anxious or unsure about your story? Are you scared that it won’t live up to reader’s expectations? Are you looking at the clock and–knowing you have limited time–watching the hands move around? If you’re truthful about your reservations you can recognize and move past them.
2. Forgive yourself a perfect draft: No one writes a clean first draft. It’s called a “Shitty First Draft” for a reason. Read some Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird is a must!) and learn that perfect doesn’t exist. Especially in art.
3. On a separate piece of paper drill down on your true intentions: What are you truly trying to say? Can you boil it down to an overview? Be clear about your goals and try to sort out a new way to tell that truth.
4. Build a new routine: No one says that the routine that’s worked for you in the past is always going to work. But forcing yourself to work is the only way you’re going to get there. Gillian Flynn, author of GONE GIRL, says: “I could not have written a novel if I hadn’t been a journalist first, because it taught me that there’s no muse that’s going to come down and bestow upon you the mood to write. You just have to do it. I’m definitely not precious.”
5. Embrace free writing or stream of consciousness: Give yourself permission to get off track, with the purpose of it getting you back on track. Learn about free writing and let your mind wander where ever it wants to go. Reignite your imagination. Write about dreams, memories or ramble off a stream of consciousness.
6. Set deadlines to get work to your agent, critique partner or writing group: Internal deadlines can work for some people, because we don’t want to let others down.
7. Write something, anything: Like free writing, Maya Angelou says: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’”
8. Solve the problem in your story: Go back and see what you’re hung up on. Do you not believe yourself? Then re-write that section again until you’re happy with it and can move on.
9. Butt in chair: Many successful writers (with deadlines) believe the only way to get things done is to tell yourself that you’re going to do it. Barbara Kingsolver says: “I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.”
10. If forcing yourself to sit at your desk doesn’t work, then take a creative break: A creative break is one where you go do something else, but keep your mind open and give ideas space. Instead of watching a movie or TV, meditate or take a walk. Don’t fill your head with someone else’s words, fill your head with your own and let the words come to through the open window of this “creative break” opportunity.