I'd always attested that there was no such thing as writer's block. To me, it had been just an excuse not to get anything done. Since experiencing it for myself two years ago (couldn't write for over six months!), I'm leaning towards it being a real thing from which many writers suffer. However, we don't have to accept defeat! We can fight whatever obstacles are thrown at us! We're writers! We thrive on conflict, even if it's within ourselves!
Anyway, here are some tools and strategies to help you over that ugly hump of writer's block.
1. Get a journal that makes you happy
I've been a fan of journals and notebooks for as long as I can remember. When other pre-teens were asking for cell phones I was asking for notebooks. They're a great way to sit anywhere at anytime and jot things down. I even hand write some of my novels' first drafts in them! Whether you like expensive paper and leather bound pages or a composition book with grid lines, journaling is an amazing way to keep those writing juices flowing. Here's the best part: you don't have to write anything about your book! You can write about your day, dump all of your thoughts onto the page as they come to you, draw, or even write about how you can't write! I use this method whenever I'm stuck and the action of writing something by hand usually shakes me out of whatever trouble I'm having. Plus, there's the added bonus that you don't have to stare at the computer! And you can use stickers, and who doesn't like stickers?
2. Or a book that helps you form ideas
If the idea of thinking of something to write is too much to bear in this devastating time, why not let someone do that work for you? Writer's workbooks and writing prompts are always a great tool to jump start ideas or just plain have fun! And that's why you started writing, right? I have both of these books and they're great. You can make character profiles, plot outlines, and figure out things about your story that you maybe wouldn't have known if you didn't exercise those writing muscles in a different way.
3. Use an online writing app
Have trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when you're in the thick of things? Do you like kittens, bunnies, or puppies? I've been using Written? Kitten! for as long as I can remember. Set what animal you love the most and how often you want to see a new cute picture and the thing practically writes itself (if you happen to be like me and get motivated to see the next cute baby face).
Do you pause and get distracted while writing and need something to take no mercy in holding you accountable? The Most Dangerous Writing App will give you five minutes to write as much as you can without stopping and if you do, your work is erased! This is perfect if you need to get a rough draft done fast or have a bit of a masochistic streak. I myself am too scared to use this one, but I've heard nothing but good things!
4. Read some books unrelated to what you're writing
This is something I always, always do when I'm stuck. I write predominantly romance (and their sub-genres), so when I need a boost, I read science fiction, dystopian, or nonfiction. Here are a few of my favorites:
5. Routine, routine, routine
This doesn't work for everyone, but humans are creatures of habit. If you do something at the same time every day for an extended period of time, you're more likely to notice when it's missing. I've trained myself to the point that when I smell peppermint tea I know it's writing time because I drink it most while I'm working on a project. If I go a few days without this, I definitely sense that something is missing and I'm more inclined to climb back on that story train! Find something that works for you and stick with it.
6. Use a timer!
Out of all the writing tools and methods, this is the one I use the most. Writing sprints are a sure way to get words down and fast! I set one for ten minute intervals and write for ten minutes then goof off for ten minutes and then so on until I've written for a few hours or met my word count goal! It makes time fly and you don't feel burnt out because you always get a break! I recommend downloading MultiTimer. You can choose what type of timer you want, color code them, give them special icons and sounds, and use it for workouts and cooking too (which is an important part of self care, which I'll also write about in another post!).
7. Reward yourself when you do well
In general, society has taught us (not just writers, but humans) that hard work and dedication pay off, which is true, but it's also important to acknowledge when you're doing a good job. That's the part that seems to get lost in the hustle and if you're anything like me, you're so busy working with your head down to recognize when you've accomplished something great. Try to set yourself goals and then when you reach them, reward yourself! Make an Amazon Wishlist and buy yourself something off of it when you've jumped a particularly difficult hurdle. Draw yourself a bath and have a nice reading session after an all-nighter. Make plans with friends and do something frivolous and fun. Whatever your reward is, if you earn it, let yourself enjoy it and then you can get back to work--and working towards your next reward ;).
8. Set word count or chapter goals
This brings us to goals. If you simply start writing with no other motive than to finish the damn thing, it's much easier to succumb to writer's block. That's a great goal to have, but for most of us, we need something more to keep up momentum. Instead of such a lofty goal as Finishing The Book, make smaller milestones so you can achieve them in shorter periods of time. Go NaNoWriMo on your novel and make yourself write 2,000 words a day for 30 days. Give yourself a set amount of pages or chapters to finish per day/week/month and when you reach these goals, refer to number 6!
9. Break things down
Sometimes word count or chapter goals are still too large to wrap your mind around. In this case, I suggest breaking down the chapter into small, manageable chunks you can bang out in one session. This could mean breaking it into scenes, dialog, or whatever! It's up to you and you're creative, right? Write down what each smaller increment is and check them off as you finish each task. It sounds silly and maybe even childish, but giving yourself the proverbial gold star for being a good writer is often a great motivator.
10. When all else fails, walk away
This might seem like the worst option right now. You have a book to write, you have characters to torture and plots to devise. You don't have time to leave the computer, let alone the house! Take a breath. Sometimes, when all else fails, staring at a mountain that won't move isn't going change your current situation. Go for a walk outside, go grocery shopping, take a shower, do the dishes, bake a cake. Do something that isn't writing for a tiny bit. This could be a few hours, a day, or a week. Try not to pressure yourself during this time. Make yourself comfortable with your non-writer mind so when you sit back down in front of that screen you're ready to jump back in. You'll be surprised at how much this clears the path for getting that book done.
That's all for this week! Have any tips form breaking that block? Let us know!
Don't forget, you can always follow Metamorphosis on Facebook and Instagram for your writing inspiration fix between posts!