Finally you have time to yourself to write – work is over, the kids are away, all homework is turned in – and you sit down before the laptop with a steaming cup of coffee, all ready to write the next Great American Novel.
But nothing comes.
You take a sip of coffee. The mug warms your hands.
Still nothing comes.
You take a long stretch, crack your knuckles, bring your fingers to the keyboard.
But nothing still comes.
You’ve got writer’s block.
Unfortunately, the longer you allow writer’s block to continue, the less you’ll have written – and the harder it will be to overcome. Don’t fret, though: Almost every writer suffers from it sometime.
Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to create the right environment for you to end your writer’s block. Here are some methods used by writers that I’ve edited:
• Play music that will get you into the mood – Heavy metal or industrial works if writing cyberpunk, classical if writing about a moment of triumph, Simon and Garfunkel if your character is in a reflective mood.
• Create a “playlist” for your characters and story – Select songs that help you get into your character’s frame of mind of the scene’s tone. Then play those songs as you write.
• Add something that demands explanation – One writer told me he imitated Raymond Chandler’s approach. When Chandler had writer’s block, he would introduce a man with a gun, which then forced him to figure out who the man with the gun might be and what he wanted given what already had been written.
• Conduct a mock interview with your character – Perhaps your character’s background and their motivations need to be further developed for you to continue the story. An interview will help you evolve the character.
• Share your writing with someone – Make sure this person has the caliber to offer suggestions and feedback that feeds your creativity.
• Allow yourself to write “poorly” – Most writer’s block is caused by fear that you lack talent. Simply start writing and edit the junk out later.
You also might set story aside and come back to it in a few days. In the meantime, read stories or nonfiction works about your setting or in the genre that you’re writing, and see if that sparks your creativity. This doesn’t immediately solve your writer’s block, but it may help in the long run. Often I find “research” about elements of my story spurs new ideas about what to write.
Finally, be honest about what you’re writing. Perhaps the reason you can’t think of what to write next is that the story is flawed – the plot is illogical, the main character lacks an internal conflict, it’s being told from the wrong point of view. In that case, rewrite, start over, or abandon it. Then get to penning a story that works!
After you pour yourself another cup of coffee, of course.
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.