You might have noticed that I sometimes retweet Bethany A. Jennings’ January challenge for writers, #WIPjoy. It’s a daily challenge that gets writers to think about their writing in a positive way – name 5 things you like about your work in progress, share a line that’s attention-grabbing, tell us your strengths as a writer. Things like that.
This is today’s prompt.
Which I was going to retweet, but then I realized I had too much to say for one tweet. So here we are, friends.
I realize some people say writer’s block doesn’t really exist. These people might say it’s really just laziness. The inability to commit to things or stick with something long enough to make it a habit. You don’t have writer’s block. You just don’t want to write. You’re making excuses.
To those people, I say: shhhh.
It’s nice that you’re able to write and write and write and never get stuck or lack motivation or feel intimidated by your own suckishness, but it’s not the case for all of us. Not just writers. People in general. Sometimes you find yourself unable to do something you love, for one reason or another.
You’re allowed to take a break.
You’re allowed to take some time for yourself.
If you want to bingewatch that new show on Netflix, take a nap, or read a good book instead of writing one, go ahead. It’s okay. You’re not “not a writer” because you need a break from writing or claim writer’s block as a reason you’re not working right now.
That said, if you’re in a rut and want to break out of it, here are some things I do to beat writer’s block.
Identify the problem, if you can. Why are you stuck? Maybe you don’t know what needs to happen next to advance the plot or how to get from point A to point B. Maybe you’re looking for the perfect sentence. Maybe you feel like a talentless hack. Or maybe you’re just not feeling it right now. If you can figure out why you’re blocked, you can figure out the best solution.
- Brainstorming party! Find a friend who’s good to bounce ideas off of and talk through the plot and characters with them.
- Word sprints and word wars. If deadlines and competitions get your creativity flowing, grab a timer and some fellow writers and have fun.
- Write in a different way. I usually write on the computer, but lately I’ve found that the writing comes easier if I turn to a pen and notebook. Try changing up your routine.
- Work on a different scene. Is your scene a drag? Time to skip ahead and write a different one! But don’t forget: if you think the scene is boring, readers likely will, too.
- Work on a different project. Maybe the whole story is a mess. Time to let it rest. While you do, you can keep up on writing by working on something different.
- Take a break. Maybe you need a break from writing, period. That’s okay. Go for a walk, take a relaxing bath, enjoy one of your hobbies. A lot of people suggest reading during this break, but if your problem is the nagging feeling that you suck at writing, reading good books can make it worse.
- Work through it. Sometimes you just have to power through the pain, particularly if the blockage is of a perfectionist nature. If this is a first draft, every sentence doesn’t have to be perfect. Yes, it’s shitty to say, “and then the dragon attacked, and then they shot at it, and then it flew off, and a bunch of people were injured, and” but it still moves the story forward. Write in the simplest terms you can, ignoring how bad the writing is, and just keep writing until you’ve worked through the rough part and are back on even footing.
To follow along with #WIPjoy, following Bethany A. Jennings.
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