Writing Tips: Overcoming Writer’s Block

Anyone who says that writer’s block isn’t a real thing has never sat staring at a blank piece of paper feeling like all the inspiration had drained out of the tip of their pencil.

‘Just write,’ they say. ‘It doesn’t matter if it isn’t good, all you need to do is put pen to paper.’

Okay, but what about when you sit there for ten minutes and still can’t seem to get any words out. Never experienced it? Great! Maybe this article isn’t for you. But if you even have an inkling of that empty feeling I’m talking about then read on…

Tip 1 — Read

‘But that isn’t writing!’ No, it’s not. But reading fiction — particularly short fiction — is an excellent way to get those creative juices flowing again.

It doesn’t need to be in the genre you are writing in (actually, it’s probably better if it isn’t) but reading something that is intriguing, motivating, or just a great example of how words can be brought to life is an excellent way to lubricate your own pen.

‘But I don’t have time to read!’ Well you don’t need to read a novel. Never fear, here are some excellent short reads picked out by Mark Starlin to get you started. Some even have audio embedded so you can just sit back and listen.

Tip 2 — Draw Inspiration from Art & Photography

Now I’m not really the biggest art appreciator out there, but there is something to say for artwork and photographs that just make you say ‘wow.’

 

Pinterest is good for this, and you can follow boards that fit in with your genre. I’m currently writing a science fiction novel, and looking at images of futuristic worlds (however far removed from the world I’m building) always inspires me.

Tip 3 — Go for a Walk (or have a shower)

Okay walking and showering seem mutually exclusive (unless it’s raining I suppose), but both of these activities involve quiet alone time. Thinking time where you literally can’t write anything.

Please don’t try to write in the shower. Instead, let that scene play through your head instead. Probe it this way and that until your character walks up to you and says ‘you are wasting water, get out and write it down.’

Walking is also a great way to notice the environment around you. Perhaps you will find that one thing that really sparks your imagination.

 

Tip 4 — Listen to music

When I’m in the process of writing I can’t listen to music with words. I find it distracting and instead listen to nature sounds like thunder and waves crashing against the shore.

But if I am stumped with what to write next and need some inspiration, I will turn to Spotify and listen to music. It’s odd, the type of music that can be inspiring compared to your usual playlists. I never listen to A Perfect Circle usually, but if I need inspiration I put them on and close my eyes and just listen — for some reason they really make me want to write!

You could create your own music playlist or search Spotify for ready-made lists. Here’s a playlist by Tim King for those of you writing detective novels!

Tip 5 — Write with Restrictions

Writing can be hard. When you don’t have a clear goal it can be even harder. Where do I start? Where do I finish? Giving yourself a goal like ‘I will write 200 words’ is really useful, as the first 100 or so can feel like they are grinding through but then you get into the flow and suddenly you have 2000 words.

But if you have writer’s block, even 100 words seems impossible. However, I always find short story competitions that have clear object inclusions / themes / word counts to be the easiest to write for, so why not do the same for your own writing?

It can be quite fun to include limitations like ‘the first sentence will have 3 words’, I must include the word ‘future’ and have a ‘feather’ somewhere in the scene. Try it! You can always change it later, and the goal is just to write something, right?

Bonus Tip — Write Something Else

Writing is writing, right? Maybe you are stuck on the particular scene you are currently hooked on, but who says that you need to write consecutively? Perhaps another scene further along in the novel is calling to you today. How about writing a character profile, or imagining your protagonist in a different situation — how would they react?

Or hey, how about writing a blog post on writer’s block…. 😉

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