So I’ve been away from my computer for four or five weeks now. I hadn’t written a single word on my current WIP in over a month (until this morning). Part of that was because my day job is a as a paralegal and I was away at a three weeklong trial. I worked an average of 18 hours per day the whole time I was gone, so there was no time for creativity or writing at all. The other part was that even when I had those few precious moments to think about my WIP, I was so bogged down mentally with the trial, I became blocked. That’s right…that dreaded writers’ block hit me like freight train. If I tried to think of what I wanted to write next in my novel, I drew a complete blank and I was seriously beginning to panic big time. I was only at about 25,000 words and most of my novels fall in the 70,000 to 80,000 word range. So what the hell was I going to do about it?
Well, first, I had to wait until the trial was over, of course, but once that was done, I did some research on how to overcome writers’ block and I did a lot of soul-searching to come up with a plan and BAM! By eleven o’clock this morning, I was not only writing again, but I’d come up with a large chunk of my plot that had been evading me since this novel’s inception.
Suffering from writers’ block, too? Here are some step-by-step ideas on how you can overcome and get right back on that horse!
Find a quiet place – For me, I’d been writing for years in my living room. Somehow, I managed to pound out ten novels this way, but it was not ideal because I was taking up half the house and no one was ever allowed to speak to me, much less watch TV or hang out in the living room. There were constant distractions and I could never really sit down and crank out 10,000 words like I wanted to, unless my husband and kids were all three gone at the same time, which was a rare occasion. I wanted an office of my own, but I had no spare rooms. One day, it hit me. I have a rather large bedroom, so I basically divided it in half. My bed and armoire and closet are on one side, on the other side, I set up a little writing nook, complete with a desk, chair, laptop, lamp, filing cabinet, etc. And voila! A writing space of my own. Now I can have some peace and quiet and concentrate on my writing. Do the same thing for yourself. If you don’t have a spare room, create an area of the house that can be just for you and your writing. If you have to, get a screen from somewhere like Ikea or Hobby Lobby like I did and separate it from the rest of the house. It’s almost impossible to write with distractions, but if you can build yourself a little writing sanctuary, you’ll be golden and the ideas will start to flow.
Pray/Meditate/Sit in Silence – If you’re a faithful person, then pray for guidance and inspiration from the Almighty. I truly believe it worked for me. But if you’re not religious, then meditate or simply sit in silence in a quiet part of your house (or outside, or in your car…) There’s no way you’re going to be inspired with so many distractions like the television, radio, pets, and other noises that occur naturally in your home. Don’t try to force ideas to come to your mind. Just sit there in silence and clear your mind of all the junk that’s cluttering it lately. Some people even like to play ambient noises or gentle music while they meditate. Not me, I have to have complete silence. Either way, try to force everything out of your mind and just be. Maybe once that happens, something will occur to you naturally.
Bounce Ideas off Friends/Family – If you’re like me and you have a very supportive group of people around you, then use them! Typically, I’ll call my mother or my sister (both writers, as well) or I’ll sit and Twitter/Facebook message with my other writerly friends. I’ll tell them where I’m stuck and then we’ll sit there and bounce ideas back and forth. Almost always, we come up with something I really like and it sticks. This morning I brainstormed with a friend and then with my mother and now I know exactly how I want the entire rest of my novel to play out! And it’s even better than I had originally planned. Some people feel like this is a cop-outor that it’s cheating, but not me. Think of it this way…you want your readers to be satisfied, right? Well, what better way than to ask an objective third party what they think? Sometimes I have an idea and I’ll tell my friends/family and they totally poo-poo it. Although it hurts at first, I realize that if they didn’t like it, likely my readers wouldn’t either. And vice versa. If they really like an idea I have, then likely my readers will, too! So tap into those natural (free) resources and start brainstorming!
Read! – Sometimes for me, when I’m totally stuck, I’ll set my story aside and pick up a book in the same genre. It’s not cheating. I consider it inspiration. Sometimes I’ll read half of another book before something comes to me. I’ll read and the writer will do something I really admire and it winds up inspiring me to do something great with my WIP. Or it will give me an idea about which route I want to go with my plot. So if you can’t think of what to write, read. But I do recommend you stick within your genre. I don’t think it’s helpful to read an adult fantasy novel when you’re trying to write a contemporary suspense, but everyone has their own methods. Do what works for you.
Just write! – If you’re stuck in your WIP, write something else. Doesn’t have to be a full-length novel. Maybe it’s a poem…or a short story…or a journal entry. I even recently bought a journal that’s made to inspire writing ideas. I got it at my local bookstore. Each page has a prompt that inspires you to write something, anything. For example, “If you could put a message in a bottle, who would it be to, and what would you write.” Just start brainstorming and even if it’s got nothing to do with your current WIP, the creative juices will start flowing and the next thing you know…you’re inspired to write again! Just because you’re stuck on one thing doesn’t mean it’s over and you can never write anything again. All hope is not lost. Write something down, no matter how bad you think it is. I guarantee it will work.
In the end, we all know writers’ block is never permanent. Keep that in mind. I’ve never met anyone who came down with it terminally and never ever wrote again. Even the best, most well-known authors have suffered from it. Google “writers’ block” and look at all the amazing advice out there that can inspire you and get you moving in the right direction again.
I hope this has been helpful to someone out there. It’s so exciting when the block ends and you can start writing again. Good luck to you and always rem