Practical Tools to Deal with Writer’s Block
Last week we talked about writer’s block and viewing it through a different lens. Sometimes all you need to do is shift your mindset.
But in case that’s not enough to get the words flowing smoothly again, here are a few practical tools.
1. Consider writer’s block a luxury.
Writers, such as Tim Grahl (Running Down a Dream), Steven Pressfield (The War of Art), and Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones), have all written a variation on this advice. Goldberg even suggests that you open a notebook and write “I don’t know what to write” over and over until you’re bored enough that you begin to write something else.
2. Write something else. (CAUTION)
Start a new piece or revisit an old one if you’re stuck in your current manuscript. I share this with caution, though, because it’s very easy to start lots of pieces. At some point, you have to find your grit and finish them.
If you’re trying to jump back into something you’ve previously abandoned, it might take a bit of work to find your groove. Read what you’ve written and pay attention to where you feel excitement. You can also recreate your writing experience by playing music that sets the tone. Or create a new writing experience to avoid getting stuck again. For example, write in a new location or a different time of day.
3. Utilize dictation tools, such as the Voice Memo app or Dragon for on-the-run writing.
This is similar to keeping a writer’s notebook, but perfect for those situations when it’s not safe to jot down ideas, such as while driving. If you regularly dictate your writing, you’ll always have something to work on when you sit down with your manuscript.
4. Allow for marination time. (Caution)
Build in thinking time when you’re writing and editing. Yes, you need to be dedicated and persistent to writing. And you also need to give yourself time and space to allow new ideas to arrive or to wrestle with thorny issues. Marination time is part of the creative process. Just be sure you’re not allowing marination time to become your excuse for not writing.
5. Challenge yourself or a writing buddy to a sprint.
Set a timer (5, 10, or 15 minutes) and write as much as you can without stopping. When the timer dings, revel in what you accomplished and use that energy burst to fuel your creativity.