Updated: Nov 24, 2019
Today, we tackle an issue everyone faces but not everyone can overcome: how to escape writer’s block. If you’re ready, put on that creativity cap, grab your favorite brand of potato chips, and let’s dive in!
First and foremost, what is writer’s block?
Writer’s block is simply being unable to continue with your writing and the inability to start a new writing project. Sound familiar? Most writers can agree it’s not all in your head! It’s very difficult to overcome and can sometimes take months or even years to escape.
Okay, so, what causes it?
Great question, invisible interrogator! There are four main causes of writer’s block:
1. Too much self-criticism
2. Comparing yourself to other writers too often
3. Lack of praise for your writing
4. Lack of interest in your own story
So, we have good news and bad news. The good news is that writer’s block is totally reversible with time and effort! The bad news is that means a lot of self-reflection and bubble baths while you listen to smooth, new-age music. Just kidding! But that doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Below, I have 6 Tips to Escape Writer’s Block:
1. Take a break from writing
Sounds counterproductive, right? Taking a break might be just what you need to bounce back from burnout. The best way to get inspired is to get involved with things that give you ideas for your next big story, like going to a play, grabbing coffee, taking a city tour, etc.
As writers, we overwork our brains and we don’t realize it. We are constantly thinking, constantly brainstorming, and constantly flooding our heads with superfluous information from blogs to books" - Paul Jun (Problogger Guest Post).
Staying at home alone in the dark sulking over your laptop with red eyes and a monster energy drink isn’t exactly going to bring your story to life. Get out there and get inspired!
2. Don’t start at the beginning
It can be pretty scary to sit down and think about how much book there is to fill. Instead of immediately going from the start, how about try the ending? Or that crazy scene where their ship sinks? Or the one where they’re flying through the sky trying to find their lost llama?
I don’t know. But I do know that creating a timeline and figuring out the book once you’ve already got a few scenes written is better than starting with a completely blank slate.
3. Do some character development
Most stories are really just telling the story of their characters. If your characters are kind of lack-luster, you may run into writer’s block more often. If you can figure out a way to turn your characters into real people, with unique mannerisms, strengths, weaknesses, appearance, and motivations, you’re on the right track to figuring how they would handle what your story is throwing at them.
4. Make peace with your inner critic
Nothing will bring your writing to a halt like some invisible jerk in your head telling you how awful your writing is. Self-doubt is a huge problem for every writer, but it doesn’t have to be.
Instead of throwing your laptop out the window in frustration and randomly screaming in your 10am yoga class, whenever you hear that nagging voice in your head, try to acknowledge what is has to say and move forward with improvements.
“Maybe self-criticism isn’t the problem, but rather how we react to the criticism that is the problem.” - Yong Kang Chan, (The Disbelief Habit).
Don’t obsess, but don’t ignore something that is obviously bothering you about your own creative work either.
5. Take a bubble bath or shower
Ah, bubbles. There really isn’t anything quite like a good ole’ bubble bath to calm your thoughts. It also helps to have an army of rubber ducks to chase away negative attitudes. Well, at least that’s what works for me.
Apparently, a bubble bath/shower can do well to wash away the day's stress, improving breathing, blood pressure, and reducing pain. We all know how stressful writer's block can be. Maybe that rubber duck has the right idea, after all.
Research shows that doing things that require little attention allows your mind to wander and daydream. Taking a shower or bath does well to stir your brain with all kinds of random thoughts. Maybe one of them will be the climax of your novel? Just don’t forget to use soap!
6. Develop a writing schedule
If you discipline yourself to write on a regular schedule, you’re more likely to come up with something rather than nothing at all. This doesn’t have to be every day! It can be once every few days, once a week, or once a month! Either way, you’re adding some new thoughts to your novel instead of hoping writer’s block will pass.