Stared at the blank screen for the past hour. Typed a few sentences because you’ve got to show something for the time lost — something for the words that stream in your brain yet can’t translate to the blank page. Deleted the sentences because they weren’t aligned to how you thought of them and you’re back to square one, back to the blank screen. You’re a writer, and you’ve just caught a case of a writer’s block.
All writers — from the neophytes to the seasoned have struggled with the nemesis they’d like to wave a magic wand, and poof, it disappears. Even the most prolific of writers like your Grisham, King, or Rowling, who seem to churn out books every other year as if they’re going out of style have dealt with writer’s block. So what tricks do these writers and others like them have that though they acknowledge the block’s existence, overcoming it, is just as necessary a skill as the writing itself.
Here are three thoughts to help you along the way:
#1: TAKE A BREAK
Your eyes will thank you from the strain of staring in the same space for the last hour. How about taking a walk and getting some fresh air for a little while. There’s this myth that the image of a great writer is that of a hermit toiling away at the keyboards trying to create a masterpiece while missing out on this thing called life.
But believing such image is like reading from the wrong script. Writers observe and participate in the world around them. Such actions add depth and richness to one’s writing. That’s why most writers when they look back at their early works, though it might show a glimpse of promise in their potential, they realize the glaring omission – more tools acquired along the way of living.
So take a break, go outside, say hello to your neighbor, bake a cake and give to that neighbor. Draw, paint, or go to the beach. You get the picture – do something creative that will get the juices flowing again bringing that much needed freshness to your writing.
#2: ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
The phone buzz, another person’s story you must check out on IG, the music in the background, and the ever present TV. Now, imagine all that going on all at once while writing something you hope will intrigue the reader yet provide clarity on the subject being written. It might prove difficult because while you can function with a level of activity in the background, having several of such activities will make you lose your train of thought.
So how about carving out some uninterrupted time for your writing and allow some clear thinking by placing the phone on silent and shutting off the internet on your computer.
#3: JUST WRITE
We can find an excuse for anything, the same comes with writing and the most common is having a writer’s block. Though we’ve established the case of the block is not unfounded but the reality is, you still have a deadline to meet, and an editor or publisher waiting on your work.
So what gives if you’ve taken a break and eliminated distractions, but still can’t get your creative juices flowing? Start writing. But I don’t have the intro? Who says you have to write the intro first? Write about anything. Write about your frustration on the whole process, write about the muse you can’t summon and your fears for an unfinished work. This is what’s called a freewrite.
Freewrite allows you to follow prompts on the first thoughts that come off the top of your head. It can be of an object, or a person, or a phrase you find fascinating. Then set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes or 15 to 30 minutes if you’re new to the practice and start writing. This isn’t the time to recheck your words for grammar or punctuation – do so after the timer goes off, but during the time, write with abandon.
When the timer goes off, you might find a gem in the freewrite process that could be used in your actual writing and if not, you’ve thought of something a different way. What can be surmised from a freewrite practice is this, great writers don’t wait for inspiration, they charge into a blank page to unearth a story that should be told. And now that you’re armed with the necessary tools, start writing.