It’s Monday morning, and having spent a bit longer than you should have done eating your breakfast, you walk into your home office, sit yourself down at your computer and let out a huge sigh as you attempt to tackle the horror that is your next chapter.
Nothing comes, nothing. Sound familiar? Well, rest assured you are not alone. Writer’s block can happen to anyone, but it is how you deal with it that makes the difference between failure and success in completing your work.
Perhaps you’ve been telling yourself that you can’t do it, that you have no talent or imagination. Perhaps you feel you have nothing interesting in your life to write about.
Fear not! Here you will find a few tips to help you through this frustrating time. Not everything will work for you, but undoubtedly there is something here that will.
1) Don’t have your e-mails, Twitter feeds and Facebook updates popping up whilst you write. It is far too easy to become distracted by these things and before you know it you have lost a morning.
2) When writing, imagine that you are telling your story to someone you are close to: a brother, a grandchild, a best friend.
3) When starting a new project, break it down into manageable chunks. Consider SMART goals. Your chunks need to be Specific, Manageable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.
A goal can be as small as moving a character from A to B or writing six paragraphs about that time you spent in a Budapest bar.
Don’t worry about the grammar at this stage. What matters is that you have the bones of the story in place by your deadline. Ruthless editing can come later.
4) When writing fiction one reason for writer’s block is that you have your characters doing something that does not feel right for them – something that does not quite fit their personality.
If this is the case find out what it is they are doing out of character and re-write it to suit them better. That character will then be able to act out their ending in your mind. A strong character profile is essential when it comes to defeating writer’s block.
5) One of the most useful pieces of advice I have been given is to just write anything. It does not matter what it is or how well it fits into your current work, just get some words down on the paper.
Personally I find that submitting work for GKBC is excellent for releasing writer’s block as it forces me to think about something other than my current project, and gets that creativity flowing.
6) It helps to take a break. Go for a walk, have a soak in the bath, listen to some music. Many a good idea has come to me when I have been doing the washing up! How productive is that? Then you can return to your writing with fresh eyes.
7) If the project is already started, read it from a suitable point through the eyes of the reader. With any luck you will be able to continue the flow and the block will be gone.
8) If taking a break does not work for you, you could consider whether you have lost your passion for the project. If this is the case you need to go back and consider why you wanted to write it in the first place. What did you set out to achieve?
9) Finally, a harsh word to close – take on board that what you are doing is a job like any other. Yes, you may need to have your creative juices flowing but you can’t use the lack of them as an excuse not to work. Imagine Steven Gerrard getting up in the morning and saying “I can’t play for the country today. I’m just not in the mood!”
Work is work, and whether it comes easily or with great difficulty we all still have to get on with it.
On that happy note I shall leave you to get back to your own creations. Let me know how you get on by commenting on this blog.
Featured images: License: Creative Commons image source
Jacqueline Ann Southam is the author of The POISE Archive fantasy series and ghost writer of various self-help books. She works as a counsellor and lifestyle advisor, and is married with four children.