10 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block. During the 10 years I spent as owner of The English Bookshop in Amsterdam, I heard many stories about writers suffering from writer’s block, sometimes so severe that an author felt obliged to completely abandon book projects. Big research projects have been launched on the topic over the years, but we have collated some tips to help you, whether you are having difficulty writing Fiction or Non-Fiction, or whether your ‘block’ is short- or long-term. We want you to move on and break through the impasse towards finishing your book, finding yourself a step nearer publication, and those lovely royalty checks!
1. Don’t panic but take a break. Most writers admit to having spells of so-called ‘writer’ block.’ Research shows that often lack of creativity comes from stress and anxiety. If you keep going, become more stressed at lack of progress, the brain function won’t improve. Best? Take a deep breath, a step back, and a break. Walking outdoors or exercising can help. Or a bath, a play with the dog - research shows mundane tasks can free our brains to be more creative. Call a friend, cook them a meal. Create a distance from your writing until you’re refreshed, calm, clear-headed. Stop, pause, return.
2. Consider how you’re feeling. Why do you think your inspiration or creativity has dried up? You might feel the reasons are very personal, but research shows they fall into several common categories. Like doubting talent- being too self-critical, or fearing judgment, comparison to others and rejection, or feeling unsupported. Your resultant anxiety might make you feel disappointed in yourself, irritable with others, or apathetic, feeling it’s all pointless. But discovering the cause of your anxiety is the first step in overcoming it! Be honest. Does what you fear matter all that much? By accepting and facing the problem, a solution may present itself. If you want to write, you will. You can write. It isn’t easy, that’s why great books are so rare and valuable! But you don’t have to write a best-seller straight off, just some words someone else might enjoy- or even only you. Writer’s block is a challenge to be overcome, not a barrier making you fail! Take a run at it.
3. Nurture yourself. Keep well-fed and healthy. You can’t write if you’re run down or exhausted! Get good sleep. Aim at a writing routine, leaving time for your family, friends, and day-job. You need to be in top form to tap into your imagination. Enjoy life’s pleasures.
4. Notebooks. Writers find thoughts and inspirations pop into their minds at random times: walks, trains, dreams… Many authors and poets keep notebooks for recording those fleeting gems before they slip away! Jot down ideas.
5. Organize. Your writing space, research, and writing materials. Keep your books and papers in ‘librarian’ order. Clear desk clutter,
6. Look back. No one writes perfectly the first time. Review, edit, it may inspire your next chapter. Even old discarded work might inspire you. But don’t just keep trying to perfect the first bit forevermore! Build on previous work.
7. Become your character. Not as daft as it sounds. Many authors find books can ‘write themselves” if they get under their characters skins, feel what they’re going through. The easiest story to tell is one you have ‘lived.’ Try brainstorming or role-playing exercises.
8. Look for continuity and progression. Is the story unfolding and are the characters changing? Writing storyline is largely rational and analytical (left brain) but must invite us to imagine what the characters feel (right brain). Utilize both sides of your brain! Let us see how the characters change. Invite us into your world.
9. Still, stuck? Try mapping out where your story might go. Or start it in the middle instead of the beginning. Or change the point of view. Write down anything, freestyle, no grammar. Don’t waste ages selecting the right word- fix it later. Or write character profiles. Try a pen and paper. Write something completely different or use a writing prompt. Just engage your brain!!
10. Develop a work routine. Stick to a plan, stay focused. Many writers advocate a routine. Like exercising muscles, you might need to build up the time that you set aside for writing gradually: start stretching, then write for longer, more consistently, and more often. Write regularly.
10 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block. What are your suggestions? Lets us know in our chatroom