We all know what I mean by ‘Writer’s Block’.
Every writer has experienced it. If you haven’t then I beg you tell me your secret.
For those of us that have to plough through, it really can bring about a mixture of conflicting feelings. Here we are, writers, who have a deep rooted passion for their craft, who have creativity literally bubbling in their blood. So it’s frustrating to stare at the screen, or a notepad, and quite frankly have nothing come out.
It is something that most writer’s have to work through; I certainly have had to. For me it hasn’t always just been that the words aren’t there, but before lockdown, being a student and working at the same time left a lack of time to write, and when I finally did sit down to do it, I realised I was just too exhausted.
Which brings me to my first tip:
1. Rest up!
The power of a decent night’s sleep, with an alarm set bright and early the next morning, works wonders. I personally, if I’m struggling with motivation, is say ‘no’ to a couple of glasses of wine, take myself off to bed a bit earlier than normal, let my imagination drift off and when that alarm goes off in the morning, I’m more refreshed than if I’d pulled an all nighter attempting to type, or without a slight wine headache, so I’m far more ready when I’m sitting in the kitchen with my coffee. Sleep allows for the brain to process the day’s information efficiently, which is why it’s advised revising students get a good chunk of sleep each night. There is a very good chance that your subconscious mind is developing ideas without you realising it, and will burst as a sudden spark once you’re rested and settled.
2. Ease the Pressure
One thing that is so important is to not push yourself too hard, especially if you have not been set a specific important deadline. And even if you have, the more you push and beat yourself up because that chapter you wanted to write by the end of the day is looking less and less likely to be done, or that blog post you’ve been really keen to share but isn’t happening, then the less likely it’s going to be done in the grand scheme. Some decent advice I once received with writer’s block is to just point blank step away from it and do something else. Ideally, write something new. A short story, a new post idea… if you fuel the creativity into something fresh and new, it will be easier to put that into your current work. It’s actually something I’ve found quite useful – after a really good amount of progress with my novel, suddenly I had nothing. Focusing my efforts onto blogposts meant I was still writing, but when I went back to the novel last night, I was back to making progress.
3. Turn off Distractions
Oh my goodness, this one’s tough for me. Twitter has captured my soul during this lockdown, and getting swept up by fellow bloggers and writers has been encapsulating. In itself it’s fantastic motivation to see what other people are working on and how their progress is going, however I found that I was too busy reading and thinking ‘that’s a good idea’ too much, to the point I wasn’t actually doing it. It ventured to the point that I was describing myself as a writer but I felt like I was lying to my followers because I WAS TOO BUSY TWEETING IRRELEVANT NONSENSE. Sometimes it’s about self discipline. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, get rid of your social media tabs, and give yourself a suitable time frame in which you will get certain things done. I find an hour is sufficient. The wonderful online world will be there to greet you once that hour’s done and you can there share your progress. It does work.
4. Don’t Compare
Sometimes it’s easy to see how much the people around you are developing and getting so much done and you put yourself down. Don’t. We’re in it together but ultimately alone, and that’s a good thing. Just because you’ve only managed to get a page done, whilst someone else has completed their entire first draft, it doesn’t invalidate the work you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished. It’s easy to fall into the trap of not feeling like what you’re doing isn’t good enough, which hence stops you doing much more, because a knock in confidence is a very common cause of writer’s block. You will get there and keep focusing on being kind to yourself and not overly focused on what everyone else is doing – unless it’s to show support, which as a community online we’re fantastic at. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ after all. Don’t allow one unmotivated day to manifest into a week, or longer. Whatever it is you’re doing right now to aid your writing is good enough.
5. The Little Jobs
Completing little tasks will help get out of the writer’s block. It’s why a common stress technique is to write lists, for the satisfaction of ticking the task once it’s done. Writing isn’t just about… writing. Especially if you work like me; I have plot plans and chapter plans and character pages that help me develop my work. That’s why what helps me get back on track is to work on these. If the writing isn’t going too well and I’m at that block, I start to perhaps plan Book 2… think of what I’m going to introduce. It’s a job that needs to be done and it relates to my series. I have drawn up a rough map of the imaginary city that I created (I can’t draw at all so it wasn’t all that special) but those little things helped me to focus on the writing itself and broke away from the ‘block’ by easing through it with a different approach.
Those are my five top bits of advice for those struggling with the dreaded ‘Writer’s Block’. I need to work on some of my own advice myself. It’s not uncommon, and it’s part of the process. We develop, we grow, and in doing so will learn to manage this more as our craft continues. Your novel will get there, I promise. Writing Block is a molehill, not a mountain.