So. You have Writer’s Block. You finally have some free time to write and no words are coming. Just a blinking cursor on a blank page. What do you do?
First of all, don’t panic! It’s not the end of the world. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all come out the other side. There are ways to clear it.
For me, I find that issue known as Writer’s Block tends to fall into one of two categories.
- I’m lazy.
The lure of the internet will always be greater than the lure of my story. In this scenario, what I am telling myself is ‘Writer’s Block’ is actually just my inability to get off social media, knuckle down, and do the work.
There are a few things I can do in this situation.
- Change location. Tend to write in bed, which is fine most of the time. But it does encourage laziness when I’m not in the mood. If I go sit at the dining room table, I’m more likely to focus, because it snaps me out of my lazy habit.
- Close the browser, turn on Freedom. Banning myself from the internet from an hour funnily enough makes me a lot more productive. This is harder to do than one might expect.
- Leave the house, write elsewhere. This is really a combination of the two above points, particularly if you choose to write in a place with no internet. I sometimes write in coffee shops that either don’t have internet or I don’t know the password. The downside is, of course, that you have to put on pants.
2. I don’t know what’s coming next in my story
If you’ve done all of the above and you end up playing an old game of solitaire on your computer instead of writing, then you know the problem goes a little deeper. But it’s fine! This, too, you can overcome.
As I discussed here, I’m a pantser. This means that I don’t always know what’s coming next. Or, I do know, but I’m not sure how to write it.
For example, I might know that something dramatic happens in the next scene, but I have to lead into it. So, I start asking myself: Where does this scene start? What’s the emotional tone? What kind of changes do the characters need to go through? How do I choreograph this? What does this location look like?
Sometimes I’m not always even aware that I can’t answer the questions. I only think I know what I’m doing. Or, sometimes, I know the answers, but they are the wrong answer. And so I need to fix it.
So, what do you do when you realise you need to figure out what comes next?
- Go back to your outline. Usually by combing through it I can see what I’m missing, where I went wrong, what needs to happen in this scene, and so on. Just writing out my ideas generally solidifies my plan.
- Go for a walk. Get some fresh air, a bit of light exercise, endorphins, etc. It’s amazing how much a walk can clear your head. It gives your brain time to breathe and ponder, recharge ready for the next attempt at writing.
- Talk to a friend. Sometimes, it turns out this isn’t a problem you can solve on your own. Or, you can, but you need a sounding board. Get a writerly friend who has some time, and explain the problem to them. Half the time, you will have solved the issue before you even finish your explanation. The other half, your friend can offer their own opinion. You might not take it, but it will at least help you clarify your own thoughts on the matter.
I’ve heard other writer’s describe other reasons for Writer’s Block, too. Some can’t write if they have a task they don’t want to do (like have a hard conversation with their mother-in-law, or needing to decide which books to take to the charity sale). Once they stop putting off the task, it frees their headspace and gets the creative juices flowing again.
The most important thing about Writer’s Block is to remember: Don’t Panic. Panicking just makes it worse.
I hope these tips have been useful for you!