Sometimes writers get stuck. And it is hard to get unstuck. Some are stuck for a few weeks. Some for months. Some for years. It’s painful, frustrating, and, if left unchecked, can kill a writer’s career and motivation before it even begins. We’re passionate about writing, but sometimes the words just. won’t. come.
How can I get over writer’s block? Good question. 7 tips that have worked for me.
- Figure out why you’re stuck
I firmly believe that writer’s block is caused by uncertainty. Subconsciously, I get stuck on my novel (or my fanfiction) when I’m writing in the wrong direction! Go back to the last place you were in your novel before you got stuck. Reread it and think about what’s wrong. You may need to delete the scene or several scenes and start over from the last point where things were humming along. This, 9 times out of 10, is how I get around a problem in my narrative.
2. Write whatever the heck you want
Get out some paper and start playing around with your characters. Put them in strange situations, write romantic scenes with them, interview your characters, or do something else related to your book that helps take the edge off. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing.
3. Outline your novel
I know, I know. EVERYONE has an opinion on outlining. Give it a go. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to stick to your outline. It should be treated as a guidepost for whenever you get lost or stuck. It is good to know where your story is headed. You’ll avoid a lot of plot holes later! My outlines tend to be fluid. I use them to help me figure out where I’m headed whenever I run out of road in the story.
4. Lower your standards
You’re not perfect. You will NEVER be perfect. What is perfection, anyway?
This is the first draft. It will be very messy, difficult, and daunting. Don’t expect your best work on your first go. Even the most seasoned writers have terrible first drafts. I’m currently in the middle of revising what I hope will be my debut novel, and now that the first two drafts are done, writing is easier. What helped me relax was giving myself permission to spew absolute trash. A vomit draft, if you will. My first draft and the current draft are drastically different. Yours will be, too. You can’t edit a blank page. If you’re legal, a glass of wine may help loosen up those inhibitions.
5. Create a playlist
I have Spotify playlists for all of my WIPs. Some songs are just fun to listen to, while others hint at the story’s overall theme, mood, or characters. When I’m queuing up for a difficult scene or I’m not sure what to write, I’ll listen to songs on that playlist and start writing whatever comes to mind or just have a dance session while imagining fun things about my characters. Many times, songs have actually inspired scenes or entire characters for me. Give it a try!
6. Talk to someone
Having a writing partner or two can be so helpful in this process. Sometimes we need to collaborate. Talk to fellow writers and readers about your trouble and bounce ideas off them. If you’re brave, let them read some of your story, and get their feedback on generating ideas! Just keep in mind that their ideas are merely suggestions. Don’t feel obligated to follow them, but don’t be too quick to shoot them down, either!
7. Step away from your work
Just don’t step away for too long. Put your writing project down for a few days, but no longer than a week. Go see friends, take walks, daydream, read books, watch stimulating television, play video games, write fanfiction, work on a different project, eat lots of cake, explore other interests and hobbies. You should be able to come back to your work with a fresh mind and new perspective. Keep a pen handy, because creativity and ideas like to strike when you least expect it! Just don’t stop writing for too long. The longer you’re away, the harder it is to return.
Well, that’s it, y’all. I hope these writing tips were useful to anyone struggling with writer’s block or self-doubt as a writer. Creative pursuits like writing a novel are always going to be a mind game. Good luck on your writing journey, and let me know what you think in the comments!
Check out some of my faves for more writer’s block advice, tips, and ideas.
Author Chuck Wendig – Hilarious blogs by this successful writer! Check out his writer’s block tips.
Author Jenna Moreci – Hilarious and friendly YouTuber/author/cyborg. Her advice is always on point and she’s hella entertaining! Check out her vid on self-doubt as a writer.
Grammar Girl – Come for the tips, stay for the grammar insight. This is a resource you’ll need to brush up on your grammar skills. Check out this post on how to conquer writer’s block.