How to Overcome Writer’s Block
Kurt Vonnegut, an author of several critically acclaimed novels, once said of writer’s block, “Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”
Nothing feels worse than stumbling into a period of time when you don’t know what to say next. Writer’s block feels as if there’s something missing and you become frustrated and angry.
For people looking to overcome writer’s block or those wanting to prevent it, here are 5 steps you can take to get the words flowing again.
- Rethink the Last Couple Chapters
Sometimes writer’s block can stem from a subconscious part of your thoughts trying to convey that what you’ve written isn’t quite right. It may be because there’s something better that can be written.
If you think this is your situation, then there’s an easy way to fix it. Go back several chapters, pull up a new document and write as if the past chapters were never written. With this, you’re starting from scratch and essentially rebooting your train of thought.
As you’re rewriting, take a different route with the story and let something else happen. The reason you’re rewriting it is to let something better happen so the story will flow naturally again.
- Read a New Book
A lot of authors suggest taking a step back from the piece that you’re working on and reading something else. If you’re writing a guide about advanced purchase order software and improving the speed of online purchases, then find a book that’s written on a similar topic and read on.
If you’re a fantasy writer, try looking through Goodreads to find a new novel, as this allows your mind to clear itself and move onto another story. Then, come back when you’e ready to continue working on that current project you’ve been meaning to write.
It’s important that you don’t just take a break and (just as important) that when you do read a new book, it’s a darn good one. Merely stepping away idly leads to stagnant creative juices. By reading, you keep your mind active with new ideas and new visions.
- Take a Break and Write Something Else
For the average author or writer, they’re always working on multiple projects, ideas, and different books. If one starts to give you trouble, step away and work on something you had already started or simply look into a new, temporary project.
If you have writer’s block with everything, then step away from that genre and try something that is completely out of the box. Try writing a romance if you’re a Sci-Fi writer or take a walk through poetry.
All in all, do whatever it takes to get out of your head and realize that you can write again. Writer’s block is completely mental; defeating it means having to break down the barriers your mind has put up. It also helps to develop a series of long-term writing habits to keep you going strong.
- Change Your Environment
Have you ever tried writing outdoors? You’ll be surprised at what happens. The wind, the sun, the subtle background noise, and everything around you can effectively provide that mental stimulation you’ve been searching for.
Speaking of the environment, try to sit out there and simply write about everything you see (no matter how trivial or mundane). Write a story for the sun and the flowers, fantasize about who else has sat where you sit now. The purpose is to write, and little else matters as long as you do it.
- Write Your Story
Did you know that sometimes writer’s block is nothing but an illusion? You might just be at a temporary loss of ideas, nothing more.
Pull up another document and just start writing from where you are. It will start off a little shaky, but the key is just to keep writing. It doesn’t have to be good or even passable; you simply have to write. This leads your mind to work out the knots and you’ll be able to unleash those admirable skills again.
Writer’s block is a difficult thing to handle without an actionable plan. Thankfully, and perhaps ironically, one of the best ways to cure it is by writing.
There are many more ways to deal with this, of course. How do you personally manage writer’s block?