Curing Writer’s Block
I’ve noticed a few posts recently on the subject of writer’s block so – for what they’re worth – I thought I’d offer my ideas for how to overcome it.
Before you read any further, though, I’ve got to point out that I’m not claiming to have any miracle cure. These just happen to be things that work for me:
1. Write something different. Just because inspiration has totally dried up for your novel/story/poem, this doesn’t mean you can’t write anything.
Many authors – most of them far more famous and successful than me – will tell you that to be a writer, the most important thing is to write.
So, write a blog post, write an email to a friend you haven’t been in touch with for ages, write a real letter (remember them) to your grandmother/mother/old teacher. Alternatively write to the your local newspaper with a rant about something that winds you up. Write a diary.
Whatever you write, any kind of writing is an opportunity to practice useful skills – the ability to write proper like what I does, to stretch your vocabulary, paraphrase, summarise, etc, etc.
2. Edit. If nothing new is coming to you, don’t waste time getting frustrated but use it to go back and spend some time editing previous chapters/stories/poems.
Looking back at what you wrote six months ago might help you get back in the flow and stimulate new ideas. And if it doesn’t? Well, at least you might spot some of the embarrassing typos in your first chapters.
3. Get out and sweat! Personally, I find my best story ideas come when I’m running or cycling. There’s something about those kinds of exercise that I find extremely therapeutic.
I think one reason that it really helps to get up and going out for a run or a ride is that it forces you away from the problem. I’m not consciously thinking about much except where to put my feet or which way to go.
For me, if I’m suffering from writer’s block then sitting staring at my laptop screen trying to make my brain come up with something creative is the worst thing I can do. If I’m running or cycling then my conscious is pretty well occupied – giving my subconscious time to relax and let out all the ideas that have been bottled up.
4. Read. If the writing just isn’t happening then don’t force it. Go and read someone else’s work. A good read can take your mind off your own frustrations, help you relax and maybe even inspire you with some fresh ideas.
Any other thoughts? I also think that the worst thing to do is to get stressed about it. So, you’ve got writer’s block? Well, everyone gets it. It’s a phase, it will pass… but the more you worry, the longer it will take.
And, tempting though it may be, the answer is not more coffee/alcohol or other stimulants. They may get your brain buzzing but they probably won’t have much effect on your creativity.
That’s my thoughts. Any other cures or observations?