Someone shared this link in a writer’s Facebook group today:
One I’ve always liked is, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ― Jack London
Although people sometimes sneer at me when I state I don’t really believe in writer’s block, I’m glad to have this backup from a classic author. If you want to write something, make yourself write something. Anything. Eventually, the muse usually shows up and says, “Stop wasting time with this twaddle! Write THIS instead….” And off you go.
No, it doesn’t always work. I’m certainly not going to claim to have all the answers about THE way to never get stuck. People are different, and that’s okay. I still think most of them can keep hitting those keys if they really want to. If anything more than writing for your own pleasure is the goal, you need to figure out how to make that happen more often than not.
What do you do when you get stuck? Err.. temporarily paused?
1 – Take a break. I’m not advocating chaining yourself to your desk and not even getting up for a bathroom break before you get down 500 words. Just don’t make the break turn into an abandonment. Take a walk for 20 minutes then get back to things. Read a short story or chapter in a novel. Do some dishes or laundry. (That is my least favorite idea.)
2 – Back up a bit. If you’re stuck on a particularly sticky part of a story, back up a few hundred words or more to a place that made sense. Maybe you forced your characters down the wrong path, or maybe they went skipping down it of their own accord and you have to rein them in a bit.
3 – Look at things from a new angle. Point of view (POV) switching is a great exercise that forces you to imagine a scene in a different way. Sometimes all it takes is writing a bit where something surprising or unexpected happens instead of whatever you had planned.
4 – Go back and read the good stuff. A large part of writer’s block, in my opinion, stems from fear and insecurities. Is this good enough? Does this make sense? Once these questions invade your mind, it’s not only hard to quell them, it’s hard to move on past them as well. There must be a part of your story you like. Go read it and get that confidence to move forward again.
5 – Ask someone for ideas. If you’re lucky enough to have another brain to bounce ideas off, a quick call, text, or stumble into the next room looking pitiful might help. People aren’t going to write your story for you. You’re the writer. It’s your job to write, which includes creating and figuring out what happens when and who goes where. But outside help is great for sparking ideas and making you move on.
6 – Stalk around angrily, grump at people, eat some chocolate or have a beer, and then get tough with yourself and get back to work. Some people call them crutches. I call them quasi-beneficial accompanying behavioral stimuli that, when used as conditioning agents for the writing process, can help you get back on track. Pavlov rang a bell and his dogs drooled like faucets. You pop some chocolate in mouth and experience a surge of artist energy.
Hey… it might work.