Breaking Writer’s Block

We’ve all been there. Staring at the blank page, that stupid blinking cursor, taunting us. We search for inspiration–from earlier scenes, from coffee, from the ceiling, but alas there are no words to be had. Writer’s block has set in like a guest who has decided to stay much past their welcome.

Writer’s block is something we’ve all dealt with, myself included. Lately, I’ve been struggling with a lack of words. Mostly, because I haven’t had time or energy to sit and write. But the few times I have, the words were nowhere to be found. Anything I did manage to eek out, was plain awful. Had I suddenly forgotten how to write? In the past couple weeks, had I somehow become a terrible writer?

Some people say writer’s block doesn’t exist. I think it absolutely does–but only in our own minds. We really are our own worst enemies when it comes to writing. I think writer’s block can come from all different places (busy lives, lack of energy, no motivation), but tends to stem from an unconscious fear that what we write won’t be good enough. The idea that writer’s block is a lack of inspiration is slightly ridiculous, because if we always waited to write until we were inspired, we wouldn’t get much of anything done at all.

But for me, writer’s block is absolutely real. It can happen to the best of us, and strike without warning. These are some things I’ve found to help with my own writer’s block:

1. Read. Read. Read.

Even when I don’t feel like writing, it still feels good to spend time among words. Reading doesn’t always make me want to write afterward, and it doesn’t always lead to words of my own, but reading is the fastest way to get me “in the mood”. Something about getting caught up in another world makes me want to be lost in my own. Even if it doesn’t, reading is always a great source for inspiration and learning as a writer.

2. Be Stubborn

This is something I’m good at, to a fault. If the words aren’t cooperating with me, I make them cooperate. I force them out, one by one, no matter how awful or boring they may be. Think of it as steering into the skid–face it head on, gun it, and the rest will right itself. For most times I’m stumped, this works. Usually it’s just a matter of getting past that stump, of breaking through the block. Once you break through, the words flow again. Sometimes, I find something beautiful by accident.

3. Get In The Mood

Bow-chicka-wow-ow. Whatever it is that gets you into that writing spot, do it. Light some candles. Play your favorite music. Make a really great cup of coffee. Sometimes it’s as easy as getting yourself in the “write” mentality (see what I did there?). Sit down, in your special writing place, with no distractions. Just you and the words. And wait for the magic to happen.

4. Quality Time

This can be one people forget about. The words may not be cooperating right now, but they were at some point (I hope so, at least). Go back to those and read through them. Spend time in your world, with your characters, and remember everything you love about your story. Maybe work on some edits, or something old will inspire you for something new. And even if I’m not writing anything new, spending time with my characters always makes my heart happy.

5. Let It Go

Really, writers need to do this more often. If I encounter writer’s block that I can’t overcome with any of my usual stubbornness, I let it go. That’s right, I let it go, let it goo (It’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? Sorry not sorry). Don’t worry about it. The words will come. Sitting and stressing about it is only going to make it worse. Go do something else, set foot in the real world, enjoy this life. The words will be there when they are ready.

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13 thoughts on “Breaking Writer’s Block

  1. My sister once bought me a cube-shaped mini-book called the Writer’s Block, with writing cues and inspirations on every page. I’ll have to try dig it up from the garage at some point.
    Out of your tips #4 has helped me the most over the years. Getting started can be hard, but if you read over what you did last time it kind of rolls you back into the groove.

    PS – Let it gooooo LET IT GOOOOO (just imagine it in a crappy baritone)

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  2. Lovely tips! i haven’t thought about reading to try and get me out of writer’s block, but I’ll see how that goes next time.

    Also, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award 🙂 Here is the post: http://kaleiyahp.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/one-lovely-blog-award/ Being the lovely person and writer that you are, I found it fitting to nominate you, and at no surprise, you’ve already been nominated for the award previously LOL !

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  3. “Spend time in your world, with your characters, and remember everything you love about your story.” This is definitely my favorite point. It’s what’s my most effective method to ridding myself of writer’s block. Nothing like remembering why you fell in love in the first place to get you off your ass and get right back in it. Or at least for me anyway.

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  4. I struggled with writer’s block for a good 5 years, in which I probably only put out 2 chapters of a novel and about five short stories. However, I also noticed that it had a lot to do with my life situation. I was not happy with where I was in life, or where I was living for that matter. Once I changed those situations, not only did I become a happier person, but I’ve had an incredible outpouring of writing over the last two years!!

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    • Wow, that must have been so hard. I am so sorry. Writing is very closely tied with our emotions, and I know it can be hard to feel like writing when faced with life’s difficulties–but in my experience, writing is also what has gotten me through the hardest times in my life. Glad that you are writing again! 🙂

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  5. Really great solutions on this one – my favorite on this list has got to be reading. Something about reading other books sort of invigorates the passion for my own, which is generally the only thing I needed. I also like to scour through the writing exercises I’ve favorited in the past – the ones that ask questions about my characters or challenge me to develop my environment more thoroughly – and write a bit for those instead. There’s no pressure in them, no one sees the finished product (unless you’re me and you post them anyway!), and it allows you to just write, freely and unfiltered, which usually leads me back to my main story. Thanks!

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    • Thank you! Yes, it really does. Reading always leaves me inspired. Writing exercises can be very helpful too! I used to do some for a writing class I took, and it was kind of like working out your writing muscle. Some even led to story ideas. Yes, like you said, I find it’s best when you write just for you at first, unfiltered. There’s plenty of time to worry about other people later, but you have to find the true heart of the story on your own first. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

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