When faced with the dreaded Writer’s Block . . . what should a working writer do?
(a) sit and stew
(b) scream and shout
(c) swear: "I'll never write again!"
(d): Read this post, and get yourself out of that funk.
GROG readers, take heart! Yes, sometimes it seems as if the Muse has flown, never to be seen again. We've all been there. But if you're looking for a way out of the mire, select option (d), and consider these tried-and-true secrets for blasting through that block.
1. Move! Get up from your dreary desk, and try one (or more) of these potentially productive options for movement:
Christian Gonzalez, flickr:|
b. Move to a different writing space. Maybe it’s just to a comfy chair in the den. Maybe you can sit with your laptop under the spreading oak. You’ll benefit from looking at the world from a new perspective.
c. Run some errands. If it’s stuff you have to do anyway, don’t think of it as wasting time . . . just be sure to keep your mind open to creative thinking while driving or walking or riding. And if you have to pull over and write something down – do it.
d. Take a shower. Sometimes, ahem, we at-home writers might “forget.” Look down. Are you still wearing your pajamas at 2:00 p.m.? Perhaps a nice shower and a change of clothes would get the blood flowing to the brain.
2. Find Fresh Inspiration. There are many ways to recharge your writing batteries and collect new writing ideas.
a. Read. Read mentor texts. Read poetry. Read anything. Notice what works and doesn’t work, yes. But read, read, read, for the pleasure of it.
b. Watch kids. Don't be creepy, but if you’re a writer for children, you must understand how kids operate to write authentically about and for them. Sit by a playground or park, if you can, or spend time observing your own children or grandchildren.
c. Fill the well. If your creativity is running dry, consider visiting an art show or a museum, or drawing or painting or playing some music or singing or doing whatever it is that feeds your artist’s spirit.
Leonid Pasternak, “The Passion of Creation” [wikimedia]
d. Call a writing buddy. Commiserate with someone who understands. Ask your friend to hold you accountable for your writing. Talk over some ideas that might work.
e. Work on your craft. Are you thinking about signing up for a course or a workshop? Perhaps it’s a good time to buy a book about the craft of writing, and start working through it.
f. Stretch your writing muscles. Switch it up with some writing exercises. If your picture book isn’t working, try making a picture book dummy. Compose a poem in your main character’s voice. Or change your story from the past tense to the present. Find the fun!
3. Productive procrastination. You must, of course, avoid regular procrastination -- the time-wasting kind. But in a pinch, a bit of writing-related procrastination may prove profitable. So if creative energy eludes you, try some tasks that use other parts of your writing brain.
a. Pursue the business of writing. Update (or write) your lists, your spreadsheet of manuscripts, your chart of submissions. Send a reminder to someone who has been holding your manuscript or query for six months; submit a piece if it’s ready.
b. Organize your files. Be on the lookout for a prior draft or an old manuscript that calls to you. Is it time for a fresh revision? Is this just what an editor wants now? Can you breathe new life into this piece?
|Sharon Drummond, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dolmansaxlil/4487159833|
c. Check your deadlines. Maybe you have another project that’s due soon, or the contest you've meaning to enter is about to close. Deadlines can be highly motivating.
d. Research. Maybe you need to do library or field research or photo research, for fiction or nonfiction work. Maybe you can work investigate possible publishers, agents, markets, or theme lists, doing research can inspire new writing ideas. Completing a bibliography can feel very productive, too, and remind you just how much you know about your topic.
e. Plan a presentation. Have you been meaning to schedule a school visit or bookstore presentation? Think about working on this.
f. Consider your writing plan. Identify your writing priorities. Do you want to sign up for a writing course? Read a book on craft? Do you want to try a different genre? Join a writing group? Volunteer for SCBWI? All these actions can move your writing forward . . . and get you out of the block.
And, finally, one of my personal favorites. . . write a blog post!
If you have your own writer's block remedies to share, let us know in the comments. And happy writing!