Six Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

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The dreaded writer’s block. We’ve all been there and it’s never fun!

Personally, I’ve been there more times than I like to talk about it and I’m bound to experience it again in the future. However, there are a few things one can do to try and eliminate writer’s block. Below, I’ve listed some of my tried-and-tested ways for beating writer’s block.

Continue to show up for your work.

Show up for your work even when you’re not feeling inspired. Boot up that laptop. Open that notebook. Then just start writing. Write anything, anything at all that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t make sense. Write nonsense. Write rubbish. Just write and don’t stop writing for at least 10 minutes.

You might not accomplish anything on that day. But if you sit down and write something every day, even if it seems like complete rubbish, you are doing something. You’re warming up your writing fingers. Athletes and musicians always begin with some light warm-up drills, so why not writers?  Writing nonsense for 10 minutes allows you to get into the right frame of mind for some serious writing and it also pushes away the stress that pervades every writer when they write. If you’re just writing nonsense, you’re not worrying about writing the perfect sentence; you’re just letting the words flow and allowing your mind to relax and open itself to the creative juices.

And finally, by showing up to your work each day,  you’re providing a place where the muse knows to come find you when she finally shows up.

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Try different styles.

If you’re not feeling particularly inspired, try playing around with different writing styles. For example, if you always write from a third person POV, try writing from a first person POV instead. If your protagonist is a girl, write from the POV of a boy. If you write literary fantasy, try writing a short story in a contemporary setting. Rewrite your story from the perspective of your villain or minor characters or even from the perspective of your heroine’s goldfish!

Just as we’re told to read widely, we should also write widely. You might find that your story benefits from a different style or point of view. Or you might see a different side to your story that you might never have thought of had you not tried looking at it from the POV of your villain.

An added bonus? Writing in a different style forces your brain to think outside the box, hence increasing the flow of those creative juices.

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Practice writing drills.

Put aside your work-in-progress/magnum opus/Great [insert name of country you’re living in] Novel for the time being and practice some writing drills. Write a short story using writing prompts. Pick a picture you like and write a story inspired by that image. Or try rewriting a classic short story, but have it set in a different time and place from the original or have it told from a different perspective. Or choose a favourite song and write a story inspired by the song. It doesn’t have to be a bestselling story so just have fun with it and don’t worry about making it perfect.

When you’re suffering from writer’s block, your writing begins to irk you and suddenly you’re not having that fun you once were with your work, that joy and creativity that was what got you started in the first place. Working on writing drills can help retain that sense of playfulness in your writing and take off some of the pressure you’re putting on yourself to write like a literary maestro. Have fun! Remember what you love about writing in the first place.

Read. Widely.

You don’t need me to say much more than this. Reading widely is an essential tool for every writer’s kit and will help provide you with some new stimulation and new ideas for your work-in-progress. At the very least, you get to work through your TBR list!

Do something different.

Go to the museum. See a play. Catch a movie. Take a weekend break. Drop by that new small bar you’ve been meaning to try. Go to the beach or the hills. Attend an event. Get chatting to strangers.

Sometimes we writers spend too much time closeted in a room, concentrating on our work-in-progress and we forget the inspiration the world outside can provide us with. Ideas don’t happen in a vacuum so don’t lock yourself away in your writing room for far too long.

Take some exercise

Walk, run, take a dance class or go for a bike ride down the coast. Exercise triggers endorphins, which puts us in a better frame of mind and chases away the stress that can cause a writer’s block. Also, exercise can put us in a meditative state of mind where ideas are able to flow more easily. For more reasons on why writers should exercise, check out my post about the ways working out can benefit your writing.

Good luck – and remember, you’re not alone in this!

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