Stuck in a writing rut (dealing with writer’s block)
If you’ve been on the writing scene for a while or even if you’ve ever written an academic paper there’s a chance you could have caught the dreaded case of writer’s block with maybe a dash or two of procrastination. If you don’t know what it is, writer’s block is basically when you can’t come up with something to write.
I remember a time when I literally spent months avoiding writing because of Writer’s block. For some reason ideas weren’t flowing and my creativity well seemed tapped out. I was perplexed where to go next in my story and whenever I sat down to write I was left staring at a blank paper for hours and wondering why a few weeks ago I was jetting through my writing but now I can’t write a single scene for the life of me.
I was in a writing rut, and this wouldn’t be the last time I’d be in one.
I bring up the story because I did learn from the experience and other instances where I’ve dueled with writer’s block, and I have discovered methods that have helped to minimize these moments and get the ball rolling once again.
In fact, these methods worked so well for me I’ve never had such a severe case where I was forced to go months without progressing with my writing. So, I’m going to share them with you.
Here are a couple tips to chip away at that writer’s block and hopefully get you writing.
- Schedule a break to cool down– This is very important if you’re frustrated to the point of erupting or too dead set on working on your writing from dawn to dusk daily. Constant writing can not only take a toll on your health but affect your writing quality, if you aren’t taking breaks you’ll exhaust your energy and at times your patience, writing is work that demands energy and patience.
And hey, I’ll even admit it, I’ve pulled my fair share of pulled a lot of all-nighters, and neglecting to take appropriate breaks, I mean who hasn’t? Unfortunately, if you let this turn into an everyday thing, as stated before, it’ll won’t only start to affect your writing, but your mental and physical health.
Step away and let your work sit for a while, do something else, maybe relax a bit, then come back and reflect on what you wrote before you jump back into it. It’ll leave your brain refreshed and help stop you from developing a feeling of doubt or anxiety when you sit down to write. It can also give you a fresh perspective of work and where to go from there.
Remember, Writing takes time, and believe or not, it can take much more than one sitting to complete a single solid page or chapter.
- Look for inspiration- Looking at things to inspire you can help with the flow of ideas or help you think in a new direction. Here are some methods to look for inspiration:
-Read: Writing a fantasy, read a few fantasy books. If your trying to write a sci-fiction read a sci-fiction book. These can help give you a better sense of narrative flow and a refresher on the genre you’re writing.
–Listen to Music: This has been especially helpful when writing scenes or nailing characters and tones when I write stories.
-Watch a show or a movie: For some watching a show or movie can help, and it doesn’t have to directly relate to what you’re writing. Personally, I found watching a few episodes helped me figure out how to fix up a few character interactions and stiff dialogue. Sometimes you need to get out of your head and see how actions, interactions, and expressions naturally occur with your own eyes.
Caution: If you’re going to use this method I’d warn against two things.
- Don’t use this an excuse to procrastinate, a little time off is good but you gotta get back to your work eventually. Don’t just binge and forget all about your work.
- Be careful of accidentally mimicking elements of things you watched, read, or listened to. By this, I mean watching or reading something then mimicking its tone by mistake. I found out this is actually a thing that happens with writers, in fact, this sort of happened to me once.
Though this didn’t happen to me after reading a book, it did happen to me after listening to a song with lyrics I and what I wrote afterward was not for a lack of a better term wasn’t “good.” That scene I wrote did not match the tone of the story, characters were acting too out of character, and I unsurprisingly scrapped that scene. So be a bit cautious.
- Skip around– Not literal skipping, but if you’re really stuck or unsure of how to proceed writing a scene, come back to it later and work on another.
A lot of the time writing won’t be a simple as “write chapter 1 then write chapter 2 then write chapter 3.” For many writers, we jump around and there’s nothing wrong with that.
There are cases where you don’t write the beginning first or the ending last. This can be done because you can’t quite picture a scene and you want to keep going, or you came up with a great idea for a future scene and you want to write it while it’s still vivid in your head. Not only does this method help you make progress, but a lot of the time this helps get you out of a writing rut because during this process your coming up with new ideas and gaining a better sense of direction for where novel’s plot is heading.
4. Write something else…other than your story
I know this sounds weird, especially since if you’re reading this you’re here because you want to move forward in your story or work, but hear me out. This can be refreshing, fun, and you might even come back inspired.
Not only can writing something different cause a new flow of ideas, but it also gets you thinking outside box because you’re dealing with a new idea or concept different from the familiar beats you’re used to in your story.
Writing a short story can especially be helpful as it not only makes you think outside the box but it further improves your writing skills through practice with various scenarios.
If you think this might be for you, type in “random story generator,” or “creative writing prompts” into your search bar and give it a whirl.
Who knows maybe you’ll write something so entertaining you’ll want to share it online.
It may also inspire you to write another story. 🙂
- Seek advice and writing tips from fellow writers/authors.
Now their advice may not be as good as yours truly, (*cough*shameless self promotion*cough*) but hearing advice from other people who’ve experienced writer’s block can be beneficial.
Maybe they could provide you with tips you haven’t heard from here that’ll point you in the right direction.
My last piece of general advice is to not mentally pound your head against a wall by just sitting there staring at a blank screen in frustration. Sometimes you need a break from the usual writing routine in order to figure out what to do. Doing anything repetitive can drive anyone up a wall and working on the same project is no exception.
I hope you found this post useful or at least entertaining. If you have any tips or thoughts on how to fight writer’s block you’d like to share with me or anyone reading this feel free to comment below or tweet me, I’d like to about hear it or start a nice discussion.
I also recently gave tips on finding time to write and making goals you can check out here: advice-on-finding-time-for-writing
Until next time!