Let me say first off, there is no such thing as writer’s block! Yes, I hear you all gasping… well, not all of you, but some of you. Saying you have writer’s block is like your plumber saying, “Sorry, can’t fix your toilet, I have plumber’s block today,” or your hairdresser declaring, “No haircuts today, I’m blocked.” If you’re a writer, if you want to be a writer, then guess what folks, you need to write!
When I was teaching classes at Writer’s and Books in Rochester there were many of the adult students who would announce that they’d finish that novel, that piece of flash fiction, their memoir or poem… wait for it… when they got over writer’s block. Well, because I was being paid I didn’t scream, “Get over yourself, it’s not writer’s block.” People who claim writer’s block as the reason they aren’t putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard are either typically suffering from:
- Having too many ideas — yes, that happens
- Being stuck at a plot point — they’ve written themselves into a corner
- Fear of the blank screen
- Procrastination, plain and simple
- Wanting to talk about being a writer rather than just being a writer. It’s easier to say, “I’m in the middle of, or beginning a novel, but am so blocked right now…” To that I say… get writing!
You’re not blocked; you just need a kick in the creative pants
Get away from the computer. Turn off the television. Switch off the radio. Let your mind be silent and just breathe.
Social media is distracting. You get all caught up in the drama of others and you don’t pay attention to yourself and your own projects. You know how easy it is to say you’re going to hop on Facebook for fifteen minutes and three hours later, there you are.
Grab paper and pen
You truly do “think” differently when you have a pen or pencil in your hand than you do when you’re at a keyboard. Grab paper and pen and move away from your regular writing spot and scribble away. Free-write. Work out plot points on paper. Mull the protagonists dilemma and let solutions flow from your fingertips. Changing your routine in this way just might jumpstart your creativity.
Pick up a book
When is the last time you lost yourself in a good book? If you’re a writer, you should be a reader. You don’t have to read in the genre in which you write if you’re worried about reading someone else’s ideas and comparing your book to his or hers. When I am writing fiction, I read fiction of other genres. When I am writing non fiction I read in an area in which I am not writing. Reading enhances your writing abilities. When I teach writing classes I always ask, “What is the last book you read and when is the last time you read?” I am amazed when people – wanna-be writers – say, “I can’t remember the last time I picked up a book.” What?!
Again, getting away from the computer is always a good idea. Get up. Get moving. Take a walk. Run on the treadmill. Clean the bathroom. Anything is better than staring at a blank screen and let’s face it, we can all benefit from physical activity, am I right?
Are you facing a sagging middle in your novel? Are you working on client blog posts or press releases and are just not “feeling it”? If that’s the case, take a breather. I have been writing for a living for more than a decade and believe me there are mornings when I despise the written word and feel like Scarlet O’Hara when I declare, “As God as my witness, I’ll never write another word again!” Well, when that happens I just might take the morning off. When I do that, though, I will grab my notebook and write down all of the reasons I love my chosen career. Doing that helps ignite my passion and I am back at it churning out my beloved words!
Set a deadline
If you’re just merrily skipping along on a writing project with no deadline in sight it is very easy to meander. Even if an editor or client isn’t waiting for the project, give yourself a deadline and stick to it. If you are writing a book, set the deadline then work your way backwards toward the beginning. What do I mean? Okay, you’re writing a ten chapter book and want to have it done in five months. That means you need to write two chapters a month, right? I’m not great in math, but I think that works out! So now you take those two chapters a month and that means you need to write one chapter every two weeks. Are you still with me? Doesn’t “write a chapter every two weeks” seem more manageable than “write a book.” Also, setting a goal helps you to hold yourself accountable.
Make friends with routine
My family will tell you that I am not spontaneous and that I am stuck in a rut in various aspects of my life. That’s not a lie. For me, routine makes me happy. It keeps me sane. Routines, to me, are comforting. One of my biggest routines is knowing that when I sit down to the computer after breakfast, I am going to work on the items on my to-do list. When my butt hits the chair I am in “word mode” because this is what I do every day to earn a living. Find your writing routine. Discover your best writing time and stick with it.
Where are you stuck?
I can help. Drop me an email at Robbi AT AllWordsMatter DOT.com
Robbi Hess is #TheOrganizedWriter and works with solopreneurs and writers to help them regain control of their time, their goals & their writing projects. She offers done-for-you writing packages & will also teach you how to do-it-yourself.