Tips For Beating the Block
Writer’s block. It is a disease that graces every author at some point in their life. It’s a disease so putrid that it invades the mind, infects the pen, and straight up sucks. The white page before you is taunting and cruel; it’s a symbol of your failure. Whether you’re writing for an essay at school, a report for the office, or your own novel, nothing can be worse than having no ideas. When your brain is blank and your fingers are numb, writing can become a chore. And when it’s three in the morning and that 5,000 word essay is due the next day, writer’s block can leave you in a real jam. Luckily for you, here are some helpful tips for defeating the brain cramp.
1. The Iceberg Method. This exercise is one of my personal favourites. Write about your writer’s block as if it is an iceberg. “The large and tantalizing iceberg blocks my path, and there is no hope of proceeding.” By the end of it, not only will you have a pretty awesome piece of writing, but your writer’s block will have melted away.
2. Listen to music. A perfect way to get your pen moving is to listen to songs you like. Whether a lyric triggers a story or the tunes simply get your creative juices flowing, music is a great way to get inspired.
3. Write what you know. Trying to cover foreign topics can be tough, so write what you know. If you just got back from a big basketball game, write a story from the perspective of a basketball. You’ll have a unique story, and you’ll learn a lot about perspective.
4. Switch your style. Computers are great and all, but sometimes a keyboard and a Word Document can just be fuelling your writer’s block. Take out a notebook and write with a pencil or pen. It might seem silly, but switching your writing style may spring forth new ideas you’d never have otherwise imagined. It works the other way too; if you’re used to penning everything, pick up a laptop and try that out.
5. Create a character. If you don’t know what to write, create a persona. Jot down the character’s name, age, occupation, personality, etc. You could even brainstorm random, wacky details that probably won’t ever enter your story, like their favourite dessert. Once you’ve gotten to know your character, a plot around them will build itself.
6. Look at pictures. This one is my go-to method. Photos can serve as huge inspiration, because the right imagination can turn any ordinary snapshot into a whole new world. Lots of Instagram/Pinterest accounts post writing prompts and cool pics to write about. You could even Google “writing picture prompts” or “writing inspiration”. The possibilities are endless.
7. Read. Okay, this one seems pretty obvious. Step away from your role as an author and step into your role as a reader. Reading other people’s works can inspire brand new ideas of your own. Pick up that book you’re reading and relax. You might come across a sentence or concept that makes you want to pick up your pen. Just don’t read for too long, as you don’t want to procrastinate.
8. Talk to yourself. Don’t worry, we’re not insane (probably.) But having a conversation to thin air about your writing will bring forth an end to writer’s block. Talk about your ideas, your topic, anything to an “imaginary friend”. Sharing your ideas out loud will get your creative juices flowing, and you won’t have to worry about anyone judging you.
9. Flip & Formulate. This activity is kinda neat. Pick up a random book; it could be your science textbook, a novel, an e-book, classic literature, whatever. Flip to a random page in that book and read a random sentence (it can be anywhere on the page, but I prefer the first sentence). That sentence is now the first sentence in your piece. You must craft a story around that one line. You might decide to toss it later, or use it as your actual story, but it’s a good way to get inspired.
10. Write in a different place. Sure, having a consistent place to write can be beneficial, but after a while, your desk can feel like a prison, and suddenly it’s like you’re suffocating in your own bedroom or office. So, get up and write somewhere else. A change of scenery can be really stimulating for the brain. Go outside, to a coffee shop, or even a different room in your house. You’ll find that writing will come easier.
11. Take a break. Working your brain to no end for hours can force your creative side to shut down. So close your computer. Put down the pencil. Walk around your room a few times, step outside and breathe the fresh air, just do something. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to work.
12. Set deadlines and keep them. If you just can’t bring yourself to sit down and write, set personal goals and force yourself to complete them. Say, “I’m going to write for at least 30 minutes today” or whatever amount of time. If you strike a metaphorical gold mine, then you keep on writing, and if you can’t seem to compose anything decent, then just write until you reach the time limit. You could even reward yourself for keeping your deadline.
13. Write early/late. Okay, we’re not encouraging anyone to stay up all night, but I find my best writing comes at 2 AM. Of course, never getting any sleep can damage the brain, so it’s totally unhealthy to wait until then to write a masterpiece. Instead, utilize your time. Maybe one Saturday you wake up at 5:00 and start writing. Maybe you pull out your notebook while babysitting late. Find a time that works for you and write.
14. The glass of water technique. This technique is quirky and super cool. Right before bed, fill up a glass of water. Speak your intentions to the glass. For example: “Tomorrow, I am going to write a fantastic story. My writer’s block will be gone.” Drink half of the water and leave the glass on your nightstand. The minute you wake up, drink the rest of the water immediately. Then, go to your desk and write. Give it a try. It works!
Those are my top 14 favorite ways to cure the insufferable writer’s block. Leave us a comment to say if our tips worked, or share your own strategies.