The Writer’s Corner: Overcoming Writer’s Block
Writer’s block. It is something every writer fears. In fact, the most common question I get during my “Write that Book in 9-Weeks” workshop is how to overcome it. Here are ten tips I give my students that seem to work.
1. When writing a first draft, stop worrying about someone else reading it. As Terry Pratchett says, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” You can always go back and revise later, but you can’t revise a blank page.
2. Reread the last couple of pages you wrote, lightly editing as you go. Then just keep going.
3. Jot a note to yourself about the next scene. Who is in it? Where are they? Why are they there? What are they trying to achieve? What’s going to happen? You might find your writing transitioning from summary to scene.
4. Use the note as a place holder and skip to the scene you really want to write. Give yourself permission to skip the scene that isn’t jelling for now.
5. Create a short bio for each character in the scene, including their goals and what is at stake for them. Perhaps you’ll get to know the characters well enough they’ll write the scene for you.
6. Make an outline. If you don’t know the plot well enough to understand where the story is headed, it is easy to become lost. The National Novel Writing Month website has fantastic methods for creating a plot:
7. Try a different Process. If sitting in front of the computer becomes uncomfortable, your body will rebel. Use a talk to type dictation program to allow you to get up and move around while you’re creating. Or go “old school” and ditch technology all together. Pick up pen and paper and draft the scene.
8. Make your writing time immersive. Get your favorite beverage, put on the appropriate music for the scene, and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. Most importantly, DO NOT BRING YOUR PHONE INTO YOUR WRITING SPACE.
9. Do an exercise from one of a writer’s workbook. I like Donald Mass’ workbook, Writing the Breakout Novel.
10. Take a walk. This may seem counter intuitive, but just stretching your legs and getting outside for a few minutes can clear your head and get you ready to tackle that scene. I have never returned from a walk unable to do some writing.
If none of these work you, attend to the business end of writing. Your writing time is precious. Don’t surrender it. Research or read books comparable to your own. Work on your website. There is a lot more to being a professional author than just writing. We’ll discuss the business of writing more next month.