7 Ways to Treat Writer’s Block

  1. Write a synopsis. I do best if I do so longhand. Sometimes I find it helpful to reread what I have so far as well. To figure out how I went off the rails. But this can also be destructive. You can get too wrapped up in the trees and miss the whole fucking forest in the process. I’m notoriously bad at this. That’s why I don’t let myself change little, fussy things if I reread my work. It’s only going to turn into another month of lost writing time, thinking your work was shit the whole time, and another half done novel sitting in a file on my laptop. No one needs that sort of creative baggage. Especially not a writer. We have enough baggage as it is.
  2. Do some sort of physical activity. I know. I hate physical activity too. But trust me. It’s some scientific shit about endorphins or something, I suppose. Or maybe it’s just having something to focus on that isn’t the fact that you’ve been staring at a screen for a week and haven’t written a fucking word. I don’t care how it works. I just care that it does. Going for a run is a personal favorite of mine. Granted, I don’t love to run, but I still do it. I only seem to be able to when something’s chasing me. And if the blank page isn’t some sort of monster chasing you, I don’t know what is.
  3. Do something mindless. This can be anything. Most of the time, when I go this route, it’s something terribly domestic. I’m not normally a very domestic person, but when I can’t write, you’ll find the bathroom scrubbed and my bedroom perfectly clean. The fridge will be neat and full of food I can take to work for the next week. It doesn’t matter what your mindless thing is. For some people it’s walking or taking a long shower. I don’t give a damn what it is, just try a little bit of everything until you find out what it is.
  4. Do something creative, but unrelated. It’s nice to have a secondary or even tertiary creative outlet. I have a whole damned list of them. I write, of course, but I also paint. I knit. I sew. I do a bit of beadwork. I dance from time to time. Doing something creative that isn’t writing can actually be one hell of a good idea. Half the time I find myself working out my creative problem, whether it’s through designing a dress that a character may wear or painting a landscape that looks alarmingly similar to the setting of the novel that’s plaguing me. I know writers who swear by writing songs about their characters or designing what their homes would look like down to the last detail. Find a creative thing that isn’t writing, and do that until you’re sick of it. Then go back to the novel. It always comes back to the novel, doesn’t it?
  5. Try to explain what the problem is. Ideally out loud. This can be to a friend, your mom, your dog, etc. A houseplant of mine has been my sounding board for years. This is a concept shamelessly stolen from programmers. They prefer a rubber duck, but it’s all about finding where you went wrong in order to move forward. Maybe all you need is a rubber duck. Just be mindful of the fact that when you figure out your problem, it will seem as if it should have been obvious the whole time. And you are, in fact, going to hurl your object at a wall if it’s portable enough. So maybe a rubber duck isn’t a bad option.
  6. Some people find a lot of success in free writing, or even writing to random, rather light prompts. Like I said, this isn’t my mode of getting over my creative issues, but it’s worth a try just due to the volume of people who do find these sorts of things helpful. It’s also vaguely related to my very last method of treating writer’s block.
  7. Sometimes all you can do is write through it. I know how hard this is. But there is one little thing that helps ease your writing woes. It’s easier said than done, but it’s vital. It’s more than just going back to writing, it’s giving yourself permission to do so very, very badly. Because odds are, if you’re blocked, then that’s the first writing you’re going to be able to do as you get back to doing what it is that you love. So just do it. Any words are better than none. And remember this: don’t be so fucking hard on yourself.

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