On my blog I’ve had several posts relaying my personal writing tips. Magic systems, point-of-view transitions, and more have been covered. However, one topic I have not covered is dealing with writer’s block. Writer’s block is a very popular topic of discussion, as numerous writers have reported just simply hitting a wall being unable to write. Now of course, there is actually debate about whether this is a thing or not, as numerous people claim it’s a falsehood to cover-up laziness or lack of skill. I am not here to weigh in completely on that debate, though.
Instead, regardless of what you want to call it, I want to relay my personal tips for when you’re struggling on ideas of what to write. These can generally be applied whether you’re writing non-fiction (like updating a blog regularly) or want to write fictional stories. The dreaded writer’s block can strike at any time or moment, but with these tips, hopefully you can lessen the time you spend flailing around waiting for an epiphany.
- Free-write, with prompts if necessary
One of the most common suggestions for solving writer’s block is to free-write. Indeed, this is actually a very useful suggestion. However, a plethora still find themselves up against a wall, as now the block is transferred over to what they should free-write. Frankly, free-writing does not have to be based on anything. Just start putting your thoughts on paper, even if you relay the day’s events about how you played mobile games all day. Anything helps as the point of the exercise is to get the juices flowing as the saying goes. Free-writing is an essential tool that can help you release your ideas from the burdens of writing conventions (as I find these are often a road block for many, particularly writing fiction). Once you start writing, sometimes the new ideas come to you, and thus the block is solved.
Of course, others will still struggle, and this is when you go to Google and search for “writing prompts.” Writing prompts are, frankly, all over the internet and easy to find if you look for them. They are also exceedingly helpful when you are bereft of ideas. Keep in mind, if you have writer’s block, they don’t work as well if you don’t intend free-write. By this, I mean don’t bust out the blank documents and profile templates to immensely develop your story. Instead, treat the prompts as an exercise and just write stuff that comes to mind. If, at the end, you come up with your next award winning story, then editing it and repurposing it is easy. The goal is not to write a masterpiece, but to destroy that block with immense ideas you didn’t even think you had in you.
- Try a new technique to gain a different perspective
Another method to destroying writer’s block is writing in a different manner to what you usually do. Now, this will vary from person to person as it largely depends on your usual methods. For example, if you’re the type of person to write by instinct alone, perhaps sitting down to outline your story will give you a better perspective on issues you need to tackle. On the other-hand, if you’re the type of person who always outlines their stories, maybe try writing by instinct for a bit to see if something interesting happens you didn’t intend. Perhaps you are a mix of both, in which case you could consider writing a short story from another characters’ perspective. The list goes on and on.
There are, in essence, an infinite number of methods to try, as every writer tackles things differently. Some write every world detail down, while other develop as they go. Some writer’s write their blogs the same every single week, while some mix up topics and format often to see what they like best. Unfortunately, there are so many methods that it is beyond the scope of this post to cover them all, and it’s even harder given each writer’s individuality. So, sadly, you’ll have to research how other writer’s go about their work for ideas.
Keep in mind, though, that the point of this exercise is to gain new perspective through experimentation. Even though trying new things can be scary, tedious, and other annoying emotions, it can often be worthwhile if you find yourself facing the block (especially if you feel like you’re in a general rut). Of course, not all your experiments will be good ideas at the end of their trial, but knowing what doesn’t work can also help chip away at the block. Either way, there are always new ways to try things, so apply that mindset to writing and you may find yourself well on the way to eliminating writer’s block.
- Read a new story, watch a new show/movie, listen to new music, and/or play a new game
If you’re like a lot of creative people, including myself to a degree, a lot of your steam for creative works is fueled by inspiration. As such, sometimes the best way to solve writer’s block is simply to not write. Instead, focus on filling your inspiration meter back up. Read something, watch a new show, listen to music you’ve never heard, or even play many hours of a video game. There are a variety of pursuits for you to pursue, but in essence, you should aim to consume whatever best inspires ideas from you.
The reason this works links back to a common advice given by talented writers: the best way to become a better writer is to not just write a lot, but read a lot too. Seeing how other writer’s do things is something we absorb, whether consciously or subconsciously. This applies to not only their common conventions, but also to what they choose to write for content. The piece you read does not necessarily even need to be good, as one can learn a lot from a badly written piece. In either case, by consuming other’s writing, we can apply how they do things to our own writing, which helps tear down writer’s block.
Regardless of the why, though, consuming other’s writing also can just be a big inspirational boost. Perhaps there was a character idea you liked but didn’t think was done well. Perhaps by watching Game of Thrones you were inspired to research and writer a paper on court intrigue. Heck, as implied, even I need to do this. Go through my posts and you will notice a trend where I choose game topics based on games I am specifically playing. This is not just out of laziness, but it is those games I’m playing that are inspiring the topic.
Thus, my final tip, solve writer’s block by finding something to hit it with. Regardless of which media you prefer, look to the pieces that originally inspired you and their contemporaries. Often, that alone will recharge your ideas into new heights.
In summary, those are my tips for dealing writer’s block. There are certainly other methods you will find, but for me I consider these ultimately the most helpful to the average person. In essence, though, the best way to beat writer’s block is perseverance. Regardless of how you choose to defeat it, keeping at it no matter the discouragement is what will truly get you past it.
Image by waldryano on Pixabay.