We’ve all been there, one minute you’re furiously writing away and then suddenly…nothing. Try as you might; you can’t get any more words onto the page. When this happens to me, I feel like I hit a brick wall. I’m not sure why, but whenever I get writer’s block, I visualize one specific red brick wall and, in my head, I walk right into it and bounce backwards.
There have been several different methods that I’ve tried to overcome writer’s block. What I found over time is that there is no one right way. A strategy that works one day may not work the next, so I have compiled a list of five different tactics that I use. I hope they will help you next time you hit that wall.
1. Walk away
It might seem counterintuitive to walk away, but hear me out. First, how long you walk away will depend on what you’re writing and how close you are to your deadline. Second, once you do walk away, busy yourself with something else. Make some food, go for a walk, work out. Do whatever works for you to get your mind off of your writing. Sometimes this will mean stepping away from your work for a full day or two, and that’s fine. Once you come back with fresh eyes, ideas tend to pop up, and the words start to flow once more.
2. Meditate on it
This is similar to walking away, except instead of distracting yourself with something else, you clear your head and let the ideas come to you. There are two different ways that I found this works. The first way is through grounding:
Sit or lay down in a comfortable spot. You can choose to close your eyes or keep them open,
I prefer having them closed.
While breathing slowly, list off five things you can see.
Then five things you can hear.
Then five things you can feel (it’s okay to repeat items).
Start again, but this time, list four things you can see, hear, and feel. Move to three items and so on until you get to one.
Take a final deep breath and go back to your writing.
The other meditation I’ve found helpful is to lay or sit down in a quiet space and let my mind wander freely. Focus on relaxing as much as possible, and take deep breaths. Usually, after about a minute or two, words will start rushing into my head, and I need to get writing.
3. Write consistently
Since you can’t force creativity, it’s good to get into the habit of writing regularly. Whether that means writing every night or once a week, keeping a consistent routine will keep the ideas coming over time. It’s not enough to just set aside specific days of the week; you also need to dedicate a predetermined length of time for the writing. Deciding that you will write for half an hour, regardless of if the writing is good or bad, will get the juices flowing and often leads to fresh ideas. Before you know it, you will have spent a lot more than 30 minutes at your desk.
4. Talk it out
Have you ever felt like an idea was at the tip of your tongue but just couldn’t get the words written out? Sometimes we can articulate our thoughts better verbally, so it can help turn to a friend and express our ideas out loud. Suppose you don’t want to share your story with anyone just yet. In that case, you can vocalize your thoughts to your phone using a recording app. Ask yourself what you’re trying to say, then answer the question as directly as possible. Even if the answer isn’t perfect, you can work from it and polish things up during the editing stage.
5. Jump around
One of the many advantages of writing on a computer is that you can write out of order. Often the beginning of a story is the most challenging part to write. No rule says that’s where you have to start, though. If you know what you want the conclusion to be, write that first. Start with whatever section of your story you feel most comfortable with to gain momentum. You can build the rest of your story from there.
Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments.