Writer’s block is inevitable; it can happen at any point and, when it does, it’s a pretty serious problem.
There comes a time in every writer’s life when the creativity, desire, and motivation to produce an amazing piece of literature just stops dead. You know you need to keep on writing: you have a deadline to meet, your readers are waiting to read your next installment or you know Google will be shortly de-ranking your site for infrequent content. But sitting there at your desk surrounded by empty coffee cups, a few scribbled notes and a snoring dog (that may just be me), you feel about as inspired as a soggy dishrag—and potentially just as worn out and smelly.
There’s nothing coming to your mind. You write a sentence, delete it, and then write it again. You delete it again. You’re well and truly stuck. Yet somehow you have to come up with something—the old “dog ate my homework” excuse just won’t cut it here—but how?
For the early part of my writing career I choose the hardest option, to just suck it up. I was blessed with a mother who didn’t care much for deep emotional discussions or psychological game-play and would greet any reluctance I had to complete a task with the immortal words, “just get on with it.” This may work in some cases, but as I have progressed as a writer, I have developed a number of tricks for dealing with writer’s block that do actually get the creative juices flowing, even if the flow is somewhat viscose at times.
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There’s no law that states that your introduction, author’s note or preface absolutely have to be written first. Yes, they may need to appear first in the final draft, but you can write them when the hell you want.
If you are stuck on a section of your novel, blog, or essay, or something just doesn’t seem to be working, leave it for a while and come back later. It worked for Prince William and Kate Middleton.
By the way, if you are stuck in the middle of an essay, take a look at our guide to writing a great essay.
Everyone knows that music can be inspirational, and many people find that a little background music assists them to keep the ideas flowing and the light bulb blinking.
I personally can’t deal with background music. I am liable to burst into song and dance at any point, disturbing the aforementioned snoring dog and shattering my focus. However, I do like to take a break when I am faced with writer’s block and let loose to one of my favorite tunes. It gives me a chance to leave the desk for a while and momentarily clears my mind.
I love a coffee, and we all know that it can momentarily boost our alertness, but did you know that drinking coffee and then immediately taking a short nap can actually rocket your creativity and banish writer’s block? Yep, scientists in the UK have proven that drinking coffee before embarking on a short, 15-minute snooze can actually increase your productivity.
Okay, I do not mean literally (I would love to get advice from Ashton Kutcher right now). No, I mean look for famous quotes related to your work that inspire, anger or motivate you. If you can’t think of something to write in response to a statement that holds personal emotional value, then you may just be a lost cause.
If your current work location just isn’t doing it for you, get off your butt and go somewhere else. The library, a busy bar, a coffee shop, the park… anywhere else but where you are now. The change of scenery may just reignite your passion and banish your writer’s block, and if it doesn’t you can get yourself a drink.
Unless you are writing a personal diary that it intended for no one’s eyes but your own, chances are you have an audience, and these people are waiting to read something from you. Ask yourself what it is they want to know. This will assist you to focus on different angles and approach the topic from a different point of view.
Sometimes you may be trapped in a wordless world because you have other things on your mind. Forget the task in hand and take a moment to write about your thoughts. It will help you to get things off your chest and refocus your mind. You never know, writing down what you’re thinking may just produce groundbreaking material.
I’ve heard of another method of beating writer’s block. Apparently Keith Richards wrote one of the Rolling Stone’s greatest hits while he was as high as a kite. Rumor has it that he woke one morning after a particularly wild party to find all the words written out in front of him. However, if your writer’s block is so bad that you are seriously tempted by this method, I think you may well need more help than I can offer right now.
Do you suffer from writer’s block? Tell us all about it on Twitter: @vappingo.
Have you written something that could benefit from a second set of eyes? Check out our proofreading services.