Ever get inspired to write a potential bestseller and ends up staring at a blank screen or paper for hours? That’s writer’s block.
It’s a serious affliction that happens to all writers at some point in their creative process. Even legendary writers like Ernest Hemingway admitted to experiencing writer’s block too!
In this post, we’re going to hand out some tips and tricks in overcoming writer’s block. A little disclaimer though: there are just some simple hacks we’ve tried over the years that worked for us.
There is no scientific formula in fighting off a writer’s block. But hey, there’s no harm in trying, are we right?
Before we let out our secrets, let’s first define what a writer’s block really is and its root causes. You know what they say– to fight the problem, you must first understand it.
WHAT IS WRITER’S BLOCK?
For most writers, this condition simply means they’re at the point where their creativity halts and they feel like they can no longer find the words to write.
Some say that writer’s block is when they no longer feel inspired or motivated to put out new ideas or other developments in their story.
The definition varies to every writer, but basically, writer’s block means getting stuck. Stuck in producing fresh ideas, stuck in motivation, stuck in believing that you don’t have what it takes to write.
Don’t worry, having writer’s block doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a good writer.
There are lots of reasons why writers experience this condition. Here are some of the most common causes:
- EXTERNAL DISTURBANCE
Or in short, distraction. If you are constantly distracted by everything around you, then you won’t really get the needed focus to write. Common distractions include phones, social media, messages, phone calls, etc.
- UNCOMFORTABLE WORKING ENVIRONMENT
Sometimes, the reason you can’t write is that you are not comfortable in the place you’re working in.
Some writers don’t like the ambiance of a coffee shop, while some think writing at their house doesn’t give them the needed inspiration.
Basically, the most suitable working environment depends on you and your creative process. It is normal to feel unproductive and frustrated if you’re writing in the wrong place.
Even the unlikeliest of places may be the key to getting over your writer’s block.
For example, do you know that Roald Dahl wrote most of his best works in a work shed in his garden?
the most optimum place to write, but it’s what where his creative juices flow. Trust your gut.
- STALLING.. JUST BECAUSE
If you lack a specific timeline or schedule for your work, chances are you’ll wait at the last minute to write. And by then, you’re pressured by the deadline that you can’t think properly and write new content.
It’s okay to take a break from writing once in a while, but putting off finishing a draft due to no particular reason is just plain procrastination.
Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. Always remember that.
- IT HAS TO BE PERFECT
Don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes while writing your draft. Some writers are obsessed with writing the perfect sentences, words, and phrases that the idea gets wrapped in their heads and cripples them to write.
Don’t compare yourself with other successful writers, and just let your inspiration flow. This is conventional thinking that usually leads to writer’s block.
You can always edit that chapter. Just let it exist first.
Ah, fear. The number one fuel of writer’s block. Most of the time, it’s fear that holds back any writer from starting their first draft or chapter.
This is because they are warped in the belief that their work may not be good enough, or that they don’t have what it takes.
If you continuously think like this, then inspiration and new ideas won’t have any space inside your head. Let go of the fear and just write.
These are just some of the leading causes why writer’s block exists. There are more reasons and causes out there, such as trauma, depression, physical maladies, and more.
BEAT WRITER’S BLOCK WITH THESE TIPS
Now that we have established some of the root causes of writer’s block let us now focused on surefire strategies to overcome it.
Some of the tips listed here may be too “out there” for you, but trust us; it’s better to try some of these rather than wallow in frustration for not being able to write!
- WRITE AN OUTLINE FOR YOUR STORY
If you’re stuck on a chapter and don’t know where to go from there, try mapping your story out by outlining to figure out your story’s trajectory.
This structured approach has actually helped thousands of writers. By outlining your storyline, your brain is tricked into knowing what information is needed to finish that next chapter, giving you a nice, smooth flow of your writing.
You may not be used to planning out the whole outline of your story, but it won’t hurt to try and see if it’s the key to getting over your writer’s block.
- TRY FREEWRITING
Can’t think of the next paragraph to write? Try freewriting.
Freewriting is basically jotting down everything inside your head, never minding grammar, punctuation, reason, logic, or spelling.
This exercise is a nice way to boost your brain and to free yourself from all the self-consciousness, apathy, and doubt that fuels your writer’s block.
There are no rules for freewriting. You just write down whatever comes to mind. It may be about your inner frustrations, some political commentary, your reaction to a recent episode of a TV show, and so on.
If you’re new to this method, here are tips to get started:
■ Use pen and paper – If you use a computer to free write, then you might feel conscious and hit the backspace key a lot, defeating the purpose of freewriting.
If you use a pen and paper, it’s harder for you to delete what you write, so you
can just keep going.
■ Give yourself a time limit – Since it’s your first time, just set your timer to about 10 minutes so you can aptly adjust to the exercise. As you get more comfortable, you can increase the time interval each day.
■ Do it without distractions – Go somewhere where you can freely write in peace without anyone or anything disturbing you. You can be more in tune with your mind if there are no outside distractions in your area.
- READ YOUR FAVORITE BOOK
If you think your mind’s getting stagnant, then take a break and re-read your favorite book. The goal of this method is to let your brain relax while still inside that creative bubble.
Since you already know what’s going to happen, no new emotion is going to interfere with your brain. As you gently absorb the words, you will feel inspired and get that needed kick to finish that hanging chapter or draft.
- LISTEN TO MUSIC
This may not apply to everyone, but some writers never run out of their creative juices whenever they listen to music while writing.
If you do this, make sure not to set the volume too loud. Make it a steady background noise, so that the music won’t be a distraction to your writing.
- ENGAGE IN OTHER ACTIVITIES
It can’t be helped that sometimes, no writing exercise can trigger that creative spark. Whenever this happens, try immersing yourself in other non-writing activities.
It might seem doubtable, but Children’s book editor Maria Tunney swears by this strategy:
“Go to an exhibition, to the cinema, to a play, a gig, eat a delicious meal … immerse yourself in great STUFF and get your synapses crackling in a different way.”
“Snippets of conversations, sounds, colors, sensations will creep into the space that once felt empty. Perhaps, then, you can return to your own desk with a new spark of intention.”
You can also try designing your book cover first. We have a free software that lets you design book cover mockups for free so that you can get professional-grade mockups without all the hassle!
- WRITE YOUR CONCLUSION FIRST
If you ask most writers where they get stuck most in their book-writing process, it’s the introduction. So to fix the problem, why not try writing the ending of your story first?
Writing the conclusion first will guide you through the trajectory of your story, helping you achieve the goal you want in the first place. Once you have a clear outline of what’s the story about, writing the introduction should be a no brainer.
- SPEND TIME WITH YOUR LOVED ONES
It’s easy to get lost in isolation whenever you’re writing a new book or story. It’s imperative to have complete focus whenever you write, but sometimes, spending long hours with no outside communication can lead a strain in your creative process.
If you sometimes feel that that’s the case, take a break and spend some leisure time with your friends and family. It can be the trick to take away the stress you get from writer’s block, leading you to be more relaxed and productive.
- MAKE A SCHEDULED WRITING ROUTINE
Writing a book takes focus, and sometimes, procrastination can be your worst enemy. Train yourself to develop a writing schedule every day, so your body– and eventually your mind will be used to the routine.
To get a headstart on your writing schedule, it’s helpful to ask yourself these questions:
■ What time during the day do I feel most productive?
■ When do I think I’m most inspired to write?
If you know the time you think you’re at your absolute best, then that should be your writing schedule every day. Stick to it, and your writer’s block will go away.
- CHANGE YOUR TOOLS
Just as it’s sometimes helpful to have a change of scenery every now and then, the same also goes to your writing tools.
If you’re stuck on a long draft and no words seem to come out of your head, try changing your writing tools. If you use a computer to write, try using a pen and paper.
It may not seem helpful, but small changes like this can actually help with productivity.
- TRY OUT WRITING PROMPTS
Writing prompts are very effective in kick-starting your productivity and creativity. For those who aren’t familiar with this writing exercise, writing prompts are topics where you write down ideas connected to it.
It can be a phrase, sentence, or a single word, and these prompts force you to write more about the subject. This exercise gets your brain juices flowing, and helps train your mental muscles to get used to a long flow of writing.
You can do this for a few minutes every day whenever you get stuck, and once your mind adjusted to the activity, you can go back to your topic at hand and find the words to complete your story.
- DEVELOP YOUR CHARACTERS
Basically, every good story revolves around the characters. If you often encounter writer’s block, then maybe your main and supporting characters aren’t completely defined yet.
If you feel that it’s the case, then you can take a break in developing your plot, and focus on your characters first.
Here are the three main factors in getting your characters ready:
■ Motivation – Motivation plays a vital role in developing your characters. List out possible motivations for each character, their relevance to the story, and how to properly insert them in your plot.
■ Realistic Expectations – While developing your characters, it’s essential to describe them as three-dimensional beings with their own strengths and weaknesses. Make them sound as realistic as possible.
■ Profile – There is a lot of resources on the web where you can develop your characters’ profiles. If you feel like it’s a lot of work, there are tons of free profile templates you can utilize!
- TAKE A BREAK
As much as you want to beat your writing deadlines, sometimes all you really need is time off from your work. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you think you haven’t done enough for the day.
It can’t be helped that there are days when you really feel drained. Stress and tiredness won’t do much help to your productivity, and if you force it, you might just get low-quality content that you’ll only delete later.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve only written half a chapter today. Progress is progress. Take a break, relax, and your writer’s block will go away on its own.
Hope you find some of our tips handy in overcoming writer’s block! Remember that it’s a condition that afflicts all writers at some point, so don’t be too hard on yourself!
Just tell your story to the world in the best way you know how, and if you work hard enough, you’ll reap the rewards in no time!
Good luck with your writing!