A little TNT for your writer’s block

This post is a little late and I apologize for my tardiness. I have been in a bit of a writing slump as of late. All of my writers out there, I’m sure you feel my pain and frustration. It took me a lot longer than it should have to realize this would be a great topic to talk about for my blog because it happens to me on a number of occasions as it happens to even the best writers. For those of you who don’t write, it’s hard to explain exactly how writer’s block feels without resorting to one of my kids’ favorite topics, poo. It’s like when you are constipated and you just can’t push anything out no matter how hard you try. Sorry for that gross analogy but it really captures the feeling of writer’s block quite well. You sit in front of your computer or pad of paper with your hands poised over the keys, or with your pen in hand and then…nothing. You can try to force something out but nothing comes and you just feel hopeless and completely uncomfortable. If you go too long in this predicament it can even become physically painful and stressful and worrisome especially if you are on a deadline.

I found myself in this position shortly after I hit my 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo. Maybe it was a mental thing where my brain decided it had finished their goal and no longer had a reason to pump out the creative writing but for whatever reason I was stuck. I would pull out my laptop to work some more on my upcoming book The Seeker Initiative and suddenly think of a million other things I needed to do instead. I just didn’t have the motivation to write, which stemmed from my lack of ideas about what to write. There are times when you get an idea you are so excited about that you jump out of the shower without rinsing your hair just to get it written down before you forget. This was not one of those times, not even close. I couldn’t think of anything. So I was procrastinating on finishing my book by doing anything and everything else I could think of. Thus I found myself nearly a week later without having written more than a few paragraphs and even those I wasn’t super happy with. I was stuck.

But fear not, because there are a number of remedies available to authors to help them through this difficult time and those are what I used to help get me out of my slump. They’re like a writer’s version of prune juice or ex-lax. Here are some of examples of what I do whenever I get stuck in a rut and cannot seem to write anything other than a grocery list.

  • Read – This one seems like it may be counterintuitive since I’m supposed to be writing but your mind is like a ground spring. When the water runs low you have to give it a chance to refill, and in order for it to refill it has to be connected to some source that restocks it. For any writer, one of these sources is other books. Some people worry that this will taint their own writing, that if they read they are then using someone else’s ideas instead of their own. Well I hate to break it to you but you can’t be a good writer without being an avid reader. While it’s true creativity is normally a natural ability, communicating is a learned art form. You don’t just come out of the womb communicating in full, coherent sentences. When you are born the only communicating you know how to do is scream your lungs out. Unless you know people who want to read screamo then you need to learn how to communicate in a better way. Writing is communicating, you are communicating your story to your readers. If you don’t learn how to communicate, your readers won’t be able to ‘hear’ your message. Reading helps us learn how to communicate to our audience. It teaches us not only what to do but what not to do when we write. When we read, we see what works to communicate best to us as a reader and that helps us in turn communicate our stories to our own audiences because we know what a reader wants. Plus great writing inspires and inspiration is exactly what we need sometimes to kick-start our own writing whenever we get trapped behind our writer’s block.
  • Take a drive somewhere scenic. There’s just something about beauty that is inspiring as well. It may seem to have nothing to do with your writing, say for example that you’re writing a horror story, then a large field full of wildflowers probably isn’t going to give you an idea for your next chapter. But there’s something about excellence that stirs our souls and drives us to create excellence ourselves. This is why I find it helpful to go to places that take my breath away.
  • Talking with strangers. I know, I know, stranger danger. I’m not saying going up to some random, shady looking person on the street and striking up a convo. What I’m saying is selectively targeting areas where other readers or writers might be: bookstores, coffee shops, writing forums, wherever. Ask them what book they are currently reading or have read recently. Ask them what book they would like to read. Ask them what topics interest them. Tell them about what you’re working on. This is another great way I find of getting me excited about writing and what I’m working on. This also often helps me see my story from someone else’s point of view. That has often helped me round out my writing and make it more realistic. It also helps me work out any kinks I may not have thought of. And sometimes it even helps me find a potential future purchaser of my soon to be published book!

These are just some examples of things I do to help get me out of my writing funk.

**Tell me some of the things you do to overcome your writers block. And be sure to sign up to my email list so I can shoot you an email when we get the forums section up and running because I will be posting a bunch of writing cues and other examples of helpful tips for overcoming stagnation in your writing! The sign up is on the upper right hand side of my blog homepage.

  • Those were all wonderful things to do, Kara! My favorite is to take a long walk or a hike one of the mountain trails around here. It clears the cobwebs out of my tired brain and I usually come back with some great ideas. I also love going to the ocean. It’s a long drive there from here, but that clears my head like nothing else.

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