10 dynamite ways to blow up writer’s block

2
798
Wile e coyote blowing himself up with dynamite

I never used to believe in writer’s block when I wrote only for myself. But when I started writing for others, when I began getting paid for my words I encountered my first bouts of the syndrome. Most often my writer’s block is caused by the pressures I put on myself to create. Luckily I’ve found 10 dynamite ways to blow up the barrier to my creativity.

#1 Freewriting

SEE ALSO: How you can free yourself with freewriting and create a creative compost heap

I talk about freewriting a lot. I pretty much mention it in every post. But that’s because I believe it’s the best way to write.

Freewriting allows you to directly connect with your creative subconscious. It helps you trust what intuitively comes through you and keeps you three steps ahead of your inner critic. For me, most cases ‘writer’s block’ develop when I give in to self-doubt.

Freewriting allows you to directly connect with your creative subconscious. Click To Tweet

I’ve spoken and listened to a lot of writers and for most of them, writer’s block materialises at the point where they start listening to the negative voice inside their heads. The point where writers lose perspective of what it means to write a first draft. The point where writers expect the words to come out perfectly first go.

SEE ALSO: 3 Insane lessons Birdman teaches writers

Forcing yourself to freewrite means you (often reluctantly) accept it’s ok to write rubbish. You can work with rubbish but you can’t work with a blank page. Freewriting allows you to change topic and explore thoughts that are completely new and different. Sometimes you’ll find yourself writing nonsense. Sometimes that nonsense will hold the seeds of an idea you can nurture into something amazing.

You can work with rubbish but you can’t work with a blank page Click To Tweet

#2 Have a break

Recently I was giving a writer some feedback on a short story she’d written. She also happens to be a freelance editor and when she read my comments she said, “I smiled when I read some of your comments on the manuscript as they sound like comments I make on other writers’ manuscripts. Why can’t I see it in my own writing? So frustrating.”

And it is frustrating. But also pretty normal. It’s a writer’s curse not to see their own work clearly even if they pick up the same mistakes in someone else’s writing. That’s because writers are too close to what they’re working on. They are within it.

It’s a writer’s curse not to see your own work clearly Click To Tweet

When you’re struck with writer’s block sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away from your work. It could just be for an hour or two – have coffee with a friend, get outside and take the dog for a walk.

SEE ALSO: 5 lessons I’ve learnt about writing from my dog

It could also mean shutting your work away in the bottom drawer for a few months to let it stew. Either way when you come back to your writing with fresh eyes you might see it from a different perspective. You’ll come up with a creative solution to your problem. You might find you’ve written the rest of it in your head during the time you’ve spent away from it.

#3 Consult another writer or your writing group

This ties in with #2 and not being able to see our own work clearly.

SEE ALSO: Why all amazing writers have writing groups

Recently I was working on a short story of my own and when I reached the ending I became stuck. I thought I knew what was going to happen but the most severe case of writer’s block gripped me and I couldn’t move forward. I took the unfinished story to the next meeting I had with my writing group and told them my proposed ending. All of them agreed it was too complicated for the story – that I was more concerned about creating a good twist rather than seeing the narrative reach it’s natural point of conclusion. We brainstormed some ideas and by the end of the meeting I had a new idea for my ending. I went home and it flowed out of me. The story was complete and it felt right.

#4 Mindmap

Often times when I get stuck with a case of writer’s block I get out my scrapbook and mindmap ideas.

Mindmaps, spider or cluster diagrams are a way of visually organising thoughts and can be used at any stage of the writing process. These diagrams help you think about topics in a different way – from an article angle, to a blog post idea, to a subplot in a 1000 page novel to the development of a character. When you think you’ve exhausted all your ideas keep going – this is when your light bulb moment is bound to happen and you’ll break free from writer’s block.

#5 Read

This is something you should be doing even if you don’t have writer’s block. Reading is the best way to improve your writing. Stuck on a blog about interior design? Pick up a home magazine. The plot of your novel not really moving forward? Find a book with a plot driven storyline – like a crime novel – and highlight ways the author keeps the story going. Struggling with a song? Read poetry. Need help with dialogue? Watch a movie or a play. Read something completely different to what you’re working on. Learn from those who came before you.

Audible is a great resource to help you consume more books as you can listen to them on the go.

#6 Get out of your comfort zone

Usually write at home? Go to a café. Write at the library? Try penning words on the train or in an airport. It’s often when we do something different that we come up with the best ideas. Write lying down, write in the bath, write standing in the nude.

SEE ALSO: Weird habits of famous writers that make you feel normal… well almost

#7 Write with another tool

Similar to getting out of your comfort zone, writing with something different can help unlock different aspects of your creativity. Most writers work on a computer but why not try some alternatives like:

SEE ALSO: What writing does to your brain – and that of your readers’

#8 Conquer your clutter

Sometimes writer’s block is purely a product of distraction and clutter has been proven to overload the senses. Clean up physical congestion around your writing space. Prevent digital clutter by turning off your phone, email notifications, and social media platforms so you can focus on creating.

SEE ALSO: How to conquer your clutter & become a better writer (it’s easier than conquering a dragon)

#9 Keep asking questions

This one often helps me when I’m on a deadline. Rather than completely removing myself from the project I ask specific questions of myself and what I’m working on. Questions like:

  • Do I need to engage in more research
  • What happens next? (particularly helpful when writing a story of any kind)
  • Why is this article important?
  • What’s my angle?
  • What messages am I trying to convey?
  • Who is my audience?

#10 Don’t give up

See writer’s block as a period of growth – a time for your creativity to actively rest. A time for you to experience new techniques like the ones suggested above so you can come back from it even more productive than before.

Have you got any of your own tips for getting rid of writer’s block? Have you tried any of the ideas above? Did they work for you? Let me know in the comments.

2 COMMENTS

  1. What a wonderful topic of discussion because this surely is something most bloggers go through – writers block 🙂

    I liked the ways you shared here, and while I do follow most of them when I get blank sometimes, I really believe that if you enjoy blogging and it becomes your passion with time, you have less of these blocks. I guess those who put up daily posts or every alternate days might be facing this problem.

    The key according to me lies in the fact that you should write when you are focused in your work. I don’t think your mind would turn blank then, or you wouldn’t know what to write. But I guess it differs from person to person too.

    Speaking of myself, I guess being a professional freelance writer and blogger – my work is to write! And I write a lot, whether it’s my blog posts, project work, or even replying to the comments on my blog (which are mini posts in themselves!) – all of that is writing. I never really get into such blocks, or perhaps my mind is always floating around with creative ideas that are just waiting to be penned down. However, when these is work pressure and pending projects etc., and when there’s stress all around – I do experience writers block, though it’s rare.

    Thanks for sharing these ways with us.

    • I think you are completely right, Brenda, the more you write the less you struggle to do it. I think writer’s block is completely a self made thing which comes from fear and that’s why facing that fear and writing regardless helps so much. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here