Editors Blog

7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

If you’re struggling with writer’s block, don’t get discouraged. This happens to every great writer at some point, and it’s easy to overcome it. I get stuck many times in the middle of a novel. I lose my muse and don’t feel like writing. I stare at the computer screen and no words come to mind. My head feels stuck, stuck, stuck. It can be frustrating. After twenty years of writing historical thrillers and supernatural horror novels, I’ve learned how to get past writer’s block. Here are seven powerful ways you can get back into the flow of writing:

(What writing credentials will impress an agent or editor?)

 

     

Guest column by Brian Moreland, who writes novels and
short stories of historical horror and supernatural suspense.
His first two novels are DEAD OF WINTER (Jan. 2012) and SHADOWS
IN THE MIST (Sept. 2012). He also has two thrilling short
stories available for Amazon Kindle: “Chasing the Dragon”
and “The Dealer of Needs.” You can communicate with him
at his website at or on Twitter. Brian’s blog for news about his
books: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com

 

 

1.) Step away from whatever you’re writing and do anything that’s creative. Paint pictures, write poetry, design images in Photoshop, make a scrapbook or collage, or if you’re masculine, build something in the garage. Work on another creative project for a few hours or days and then go back to writing. When I’m stuck, I paint paintings or work on my website or blog. Jumping to other projects really activates my creativity. The key is to keep exercising the creative part of your brain and eventually you’ll tap back into the flow of writing.

2). Do freewriting. Spend 15 minutes or more a day writing whatever comes off the top of your head. Ignore punctuation. Just write freely. Allow it to be totally random. You might change subjects many times. You might mix fiction with journaling or vent frustrations. The process trains your brain to tap into the words inside your head and gives them a place to live on your computer screen or journal. Do this for a week and then return to your writing project. An alternative is to freewrite 15-20 minutes to get your thoughts out and then immediately return to writing your book or article. Some of my freewriting entries inspired new ideas for my books.

(Do writers need an outside edit before querying agents?)

3.) Move your body. Dance, practice yoga or Tai Chi. This may sound funny, but when you get your body into flow, your mind follows. Meditate and take long, deep breaths. A relaxed mind is more open. An open mind is more imaginative. You can focus longer when you are in a peaceful state. Sometimes I step away from writing, do some yoga poses and breathing, then return to writing in a more creative state.

4.) Eliminate distractions. Turn off the phone and unplug from the internet. Clean up your work space. A cluttered desk puts the mind in a state of confusion. Carve out some time in your schedule just for writing — at least 3 to 4 hours. Ask loved ones to honor your space so you can write without interruptions, or write when everyone in the house is sleeping. Giving yourself time and space to be in solitude is important to staying focused.

5.) Write early in the morning. When you first wake up, your brain is still in Theta mode, the brainwave pattern that your mind is in when you dream. My best writing happens when I get up at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. I’m amazed at what my mind comes up with while I’m still half asleep.

6.) Write while you sleep. Your subconscious mind is always problem solving, even when you’re sleeping. Sometimes when I’m stuck on a chapter I’ll write for 15-30 minutes prior to bedtime. I’ll think about the problem chapter as I fall asleep. The next morning I usually wake up with a solution to the problem and get back into the flow of writing. I’ll see the scene from a fresh perspective or my characters will say or do things that take my story in an exciting new direction.

(What are overused openings in fantasy, sci-fi, romance and crime novels?)

7.) If nothing else works, I resort to my number one, lethal weapon to cure writer’s block: the Glass-of-Water Technique. Before bed, fill up a glass of water. Hold it up and speak an intention into the water. (Example: My intent is to tap into my creative source and write brilliantly tomorrow. I choose to be in the flow of my best writing. I am resolving my story’s issues as I sleep and dream). Drink half the water and then set the half-full glass on your nightstand. Go to sleep. When you wake up the next morning, drink the rest of the water immediately. Then go straight to your computer and write at least an hour without distraction. This may seem a bit out there, but give it a try. It works! Do this technique for three nights straight. It gets me out of my writer’s block every time, often the next morning and definitely within 72 hours.

When you apply one or all of these methods, you’ll find that writer’s block is simply a minor speed bump that you can overcome easily and stay in the creative flow. Happy writing!

 

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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

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8 thoughts on “7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

  1. Tony Jones

    A fascinating post. I’ve covered Writer’s Block in my recent book on creative tools for writers (Opening the Creativity Diamond). In there I cover some ideas that overlap with these but ideas 3 and particularly 7 I didn’t consider.

    Thanks for this!

  2. The Captain

    Thank you for this fabulous article. It was both helpful and enlightening. And it’s refreshing for an author to admit the existence of writer’s block (lately I’ve seen many writers condemn the muse or the idea of writer’s block), and then go an extra step to offer solutions to this infuriating state.

    Here’s to getting out of writer’s block and tying down uncooperative muses!

  3. robocat

    Thanks for the suggestions. I do, however, take issue with: “…or if you’re masculine, build something in the garage”. What is this, the 1950s? Such rigid gender roles don’t have a place anywhere, including in tips for writers.

    1. Bizla

      Grow up robocat…
      The author wrote a great, helpful post with a bit of humour added in the mix.
      But you all do it criticise 4 simple words. Well I don’t see nay women complaining, it’s not like he said anything sexist after all, he was making a funny suggestion. Take your head out of your back passage.

      And to the author, thank you for the great post, I will certainly try some, if not all of these techniques.

  4. joelheffner

    Many folks have found TheStoryStarter.com to be useful. It provides more than 3 billion (no kidding, I really counted them) story starters and was picked as the best in the creativity category in the Writer’s Digest (2012) 101 Best Websites for Writers.

  5. Haypher

    Totally understand the glass of water and stating your intention. Did you ever read/see the works of Masaru Emoto? (The water crystals of Masaru Emoto) He takes samples of water from all over the world – he exposed water to different types of music then examined the water crystals – it’s amazing how the crystals changed – or polluted water vs spring water. I believe he even labeled the container the water was stored in with things like “love”; “passion”, “war”, “hate” then reviewed the crystals and showed how they reflected the word associated with it.

    My point being – I believe your intention does have an impact on the water itself on levels we don’t understand and, could in fact, have an impact on the mind. Thanks for the ideas to break through writer’s block. Definitely going to put them to task.

  6. hamilob

    Best of luck Van. The early morning writing has worked for me. I’m afraid the last one, drinking half glass of water, would wake me up.

  7. Van Winkle

    I really hope these will work for me. I am experiencing a really depressing block ….thanks for your insight …am starting right away.

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