Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Overcoming Writer's Block

Okay, so I'm asked all the time during my class visits and presentations how I overcome writer's block. I have a long answer, which I won't bore you with, and a short one.

Short answer: Do mindless activities.

When I need to work out some part of my plot or think of how I can revise something, my mind needs freedom. It needs to be left alone. It needs room to breathe.

Stressing about your deadlines, or the fact that you can't come up with the next chapter (writing out of order helps... just sayin'), or that you don't know how to do a revision doesn't do anything but frenzy your mind.

And you can't work effectively in a frenzied state.

So I always turn to mindless activities--most of which need to be done anyway! Showering. Folding laundry. Cooking. Vacuuming. All manner of cleaning. Driving.

Things you don't have to think about to do. (Although it is sometimes scary to be like, "Wait... Was that light red or green?" Ha!)

When I talk to high schools, I tell them they should play more video games. They love that. But seriously, anything that will allow your mind time to relax, anything that you don't have to think too hard about, is what you're looking for.

My plot pieces and bits of revisions I need always snap into place when I do mindless things. Hopefully this can work for you too.

What do you do to overcome writer's block? 


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22 comments:

LM Preston said...

Outline it, write through it.

Kelly Hashway said...

I usually find if I start typing, the words will start to flow after a few minutes, but if that doesn't work, reading or running always clears my head.

Kelly Polark said...

Good tip. Sometimes I read, too. But yes, I get ideas while walking in the neighborhood, driving, or right before I fall asleep!

Kamille Elahi said...

I don't really have writer's block during the academic term. When I've got college work to get through, I tend to suffer from "No Time To Write Syndrome". During the holidays, I go through awful blocks. I just do something else. Usually read a book or watch TV.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I usually bounce back and forth between writing projects when I get stuck. I'm usually writing a novel and a short story at the same time or writing a novel and editing/revising another one at the same time. By working on another project, I can usually figure out how to work out any problems with the first one and go back to it.

Jenilyn Tolley said...

I swear I'm like a kid in that I can't think if I'm not talking, at least not with my current WIP. My husband really likes the story I'm working on and every time I've been stuck, he's been great about talking it out with me. Mostly it's whining at first, but by talking out all the problems and identifying what's wrong, I get ideas for how to fix them. That's what's worked for me this time around. :)

Randy said...

I walk. That works most of the time for me. There's something about keeping my body doing something that seems to kick my thinking into high gear.

Windy Aphayrath said...

I watch Netflix. And I do agree with you, pulling yourself away from the pressure of what needs to be done really helps put things back in perspective. Something many people forget, I think.

Stacy Henrie said...

So true! I've had breakthrough ideas just going about my normal routine.

Melanie Fowler said...

I take a small break, and I agree with you. When I'm doing mindless activities that's when an idea strikes and I have to run and find a note book to write it down.

Angela Brown said...

I attack writer's block by acknowledging it's there then walking away. I eat chocolate and tickle my kiddo. Her laughter can be intoxicating. Then I'll just scribble random thoughts. Seriously random, but they soon take form and soon the writer's block is slap-a-powed out the window.

Theresa Milstein said...

I agree. Many a thought has popped up in the shower. And I make sure to work on something each day. So if my current WIP isn't working, I edit the last one or write a short story or a poem. This way, I still feel like a writer.

Miriam Forster said...

I have no writer's block right now. I have moving block. *sadface*

But I saw you got a RAOK shoutout! Yay you!

Jessie Humphries said...

I like to brainstorm with anyone who will let me. I like to get with someone creative and let their brain do some of the work! Wait...is that wrong? Like I am stealing ideas or something? Maybe I should have them sign a waiver... :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I play my guitar. It's not mindless, because I have to concentrate, but it's peaceful and helps me focus.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thankfully it doesn't happen very often to me. If the block is in the story, I might work on the query or synopsis or another story. Or something else completely. Or walk away and do something else. My subconscious does a lot of good work and somehting answers come just as I'm drifting off to sleep :)

Martha Ramirez said...

Great tip! Thank you. I love watching movies when I have writers block and I like to let my creativity come out on its own whether it be drawing or making a card or gift basket for a friend.

Alice said...

I find that walking helps.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I either work on something else or I write something absolutely ridiculous. That the characters would never do.

Leslie Pugh said...

When I have writer's block, I usually stop to read a book. Doesn't seem to be helping me because I usually can't put the book down and there goes all my free writing time!

Gotta try something new I think!

Leslie Rose said...

I grab an In and Out burger, cheese fries, an extra large Dr. Pepper, turn on my tunes, and eat in my car looking at the hills. Works every time. I think it's the cheese fries.

Patti said...

I go for a walk. Fresh air always clears my head and gets the juices flowing.

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