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This blog was featured on 08/31/2019
Tips for Defeating Writer's Block
Written by
August 2019
Written by
August 2019

Writer's block is a common issue among writers. I don't know a single writer who doesn't find themselves hitting a wall at some point or other during their writing process. And, I think we can all agree, it's a tough cookie to crack.

Here are some of my best tips for overcoming writer's block. They've worked for me over the years, and while one or two of them may be strange, I'd definitely recommend giving them a go when nothing else has been working.

  1. Take a Step Back. This is probably the one piece of advice I see the most when checking out what people have to say for writers' block. Taking a step back from a project for a few days or a few weeks can really help give you a fresher perspective when you get back to it. You'll notice things you didn't notice before, and that time away can help all of your thoughts really simmer in your mind. One big disadvantage of this method for me is that going back to writing a project can be difficult once I've spent time away from it. As someone who works in spurts of motivation and inspiration and passion, stepping away means that all just sort of fizzles away and I usually get distracted by something else - a new project, or another project I've left behind and now want to continue, or something else altogether. So, if you're similar, be careful with this method! Make sure you have the self discipline to get back in that chair and wrestle with the beast once more.
  2. Mind Maps. This is a pretty simple method. You take out a piece of paper and a pen, and you start making webs. This one's pretty good for plot, but you can use it for other things, too. If your issue is with conflict, draw out all the conflicts in your story, think about how they connect, think about possible resolutions, and everything else you want to go over. If your difficulty lies with a certain character, make a web of characters and how they're related, their motives, and how they interact with one another, among other things. It's a pretty free-form method, so you can make any kind of web, and it helps you see the big picture of how everything in your story connects with everything else - and if there are any loose ends!
  3. Talk to Someone. If you have a trustworthy friend, relative, or colleague, you might want to take some time to chat with them about your project. You'd be surprised how many different ideas they might help you come up with - ideas you never thought about on your own! It's also likely that they'll ask questions or poke holes about weaknesses in your story that you didn't know about before, which is a great help (and, if caught early, can prevent lots of re-writing!). One disadvantage of this method is that you'll often have to be certain that you can trust the person, and if you don't have someone who's trustworthy and willing to listen, you won't really get a chance to try this out.
  4. Voice Notes! If you can't find someone to talk to - and even if you do have someone - you can try voice notes or voice recordings. When I'm thinking about a certain wall that I've hit or difficulty I'm having with a story, thinking about it mentally can be challenging. I've got too much going on in my mind - too many ideas - and I end up pulling out my phone, turning on my voice recorder app, and just talking. This way, I can explore every avenue and thought and idea thoroughly, discount the ones I don't want, and get really in-depth about the ideas I do want to keep. More often than not, I usually end up getting lots of great ideas from this - and solutions to the challenges I'm facing! 
  5. Formulae? A lot of the time, when writers want to know what's expected of their genre or where to go next, they're tempted and encouraged to read other books and get an idea based on what other authors are doing. This might work for many, but I don't like reading books within the same genre I'm currently writing. For example, one of my big projects right now is a high fantasy novel. I don't currently read high fantasy novels. This, I find, encourages me to think outside the box and come up with my own unique ideas. But what happens when you just can't figure out what to do next? That's where formulae come in! Instead of reading books by other authors that can end up greatly influencing your writing style and elements, you might want to just search for formulae for your particular genre, tropes, and reader expectations. This way, you'll have a general idea of where you might want your story to go, but you won't have any details - that's up to you to figure out! 

Leave a comment and let me know if these helped you! I find that the voice notes method helps me the most, but I've also recently been checking out the formulae approach as I try to make sure my stories are solid.

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