Most writers are afflicted with writer’s block from time to time. The important thing is that you don’t let it stop you from finishing your manuscript. Don’t waste time you don’t have. Here are my top tips to help you overcome writer’s block.
There’s no mysterious muse that sits on your shoulder. Writing a book takes time, planning, patience, creativity, and work. It’s like weight loss: there’s no magic pill. The only way to get it done is to dial in, stay consistent, and keep your goals in sight. Accept that you don’t have time to wait for inspiration. You create inspiration. Waiting for your muse is nothing more than an excuse to not write. Get to work!
Be Honest About Your Schedule
Occasionally I can’t focus because I’ve got a lot going on. I might have five agenda items on my list that I truly can’t ignore (like pick up son from Kindergarten—that’s a hard stop!), and I’m trying to do too many things at once. Be honest about your schedule. Sometimes writing has to come second, and that’s just the way it is. When that happens, I make a point of carving out the time I need the next day. Often the work comes easier because I’m not feeling harried.
Figure Out Where You’re Going
One of the most common causes of my personal writer’s block is that I actually don’t know what happens next. If I’m spinning my wheels and everything feels like pulling teeth, I back away from the computer, and I move into the thinking zone. I jot down on paper where the story’s been and where it’s going. Then I game out everyone’s motivation and what should happen next. Finally, I return once I know what to write.
Sometimes this is hard to do mentally because you might have told yourself that you “have to” write a certain number of words per day. It’s great to be structured, but isn’t productivity even better than being well-scheduled? It’s not productive to spend the day writing 2,000 words of crap that you’re going to have to delete the next morning. You also don’t want to write yourself into a wall. Taking a breather to plan the next plot point is almost always time well spent.
Don’t Wait for Perfect
Sometimes I need to do a little plotting or planning before I can dive into the next scene. Other times I just need to sit there and push through it. You might relate to getting down on yourself. The negative self-talk starts, like: This sucks. Or, I should just start over. Sometimes that might be true, but in general, give yourself permission to suck. Be okay with not being perfect. You can always edit it later.
If you feel like you’ve got a bad case of writer’s block, don’t let it destroy your mindset. Don’t build it up to be worse than it is. And most of all, don’t let writer’s block manifest. Instead of fearing the computer or your desk (or wherever you write), promise yourself you’ll do something small each day until you get over it. That might mean writing a sentence or a paragraph a day. You can do that, can’t you? One sentence. That’s it. If you do this often enough, you will get going again. If you put your project down for weeks or days, you risk writer’s block metastasizing into quitter-itis.
Finally, just don’t quit! Maybe you need tough love. Maybe you need TLC. Perhaps you need to work on your plot or just plod forward. But remember: you’re a writer. And writer’s write. You’ve got this!