Is there anything worse than getting washed out on writing? I’ve seen some incredible authors lose their interest and try to force feed creativity through months of painful and empty writing sessions. So find out now how to get passed it when it happens and send it on to one or two of your fellow writers to help them through this time. Besides, if they care enough to get writers block, you should certainly help them through this.
1) Put the ‘work’ down.
If you are working on a book, or series of short stories, or a particular blog, put it down for at least two weeks. One of the biggest hindrances to the writing process is feeling pressured to complete something. So the moment it feels like a burden, put it away for a little while. Explain to your accountability (editors, other writers group members, your boss, whoever) that you need a break and ask if you can go a different direction for a little bit.
2) Free write every day
You don’t want to get rusty. Keep writing something every day, but change it up. Do some free writing (or writing without a purpose.) Free writing is simple. First, get a blank sheet of paper and your favorite writing utensil. Lastly, start writing without thinking. Get lost in thinking about something else and don’t worry about the words floating out. Perhaps you will end up journalling, maybe you’ll recap your favorite movie quotes. Whatever it is will keep you sharp without banging your head on your desk.
3) Do something else artistic
Try painting, play music, dance, whatever you feel comfortable doing. I played trumpet professionally during college, so I will get the horn back out. Stay creative. It keeps the right side of your brain loose. If you don’t have anything that you are aware of, go to a dollar store and get a coloring book. Everyone is good at coloring.
4) Do something physical….and mindless
Yoga, Tai Chi, walking, running, biking are all great ways to get your blood flowing. The change of pace also allows your mind to take a step back and see the forest from the trees. It’s really amazing what it will do. Once, I was stuck on a character for a few weeks. After a two hour walk through the surrounding neighborhood, it became obvious to get the character drunk and have him do something I saw a guy do once that was so stupid, it was believable fiction.
If you can get your mind at ease, then you can focus longer and tap your imagination more. Even turning toward a different wall and taking long, slow breaths will calm down fatigue, anxiety and stress.
Jesse Eisenberg had a saying when portraying Mark Zuckerberg in the Social Network. “He’s plugged in.” It means the user had noise cancelling headphones blocking out all worldly sound and that person could experience nothing but the code he was writing. Overcoming writers block is the exact opposite. Unplug everything. If you are used to listening to music while you write, turn it off. If you write in your office, go to a coffee shop or a park. Unplug from your normal writing routine in every way imaginable. Doing so offers your brain a full reset so you can reapproach what you are doing.
6) Employ The Glass-of-Water Technique
This one is from Brian Moreland (www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com) and it’s so creatively outlandish that this article is going to direct quote him.
“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.”
7) Shelf the project indefinitely
One thing that I’ve tried a few times and works wonders is to abandon the project completely. As long as this is an option for you (no pending deadline or contract) it is a beautiful tool. Bury the file in your computer somewhere that you won’t find it for a few months or longer. I will actually print the existing manuscript double spaced and put it in the bottom of a desk drawer or up on the bookshelf. Then I’ll delete the digital version. If I stumble across it again in a year or two, read it and enjoy it, then I’ll retype it and get back after it, this time with a renewed sense of enjoyment.