3 Tips To Combat Writer’s Block
I’m a creature who loves to feel like I’m making steady progress on my various projects. As such, it hits me very hard when I have writer’s block. Glaring at the page, huffy, nothing is right with the world hard.
But, what is writer’s block? To put it simply, it’s when a writer sits down to write and nothing comes out. The writer could sit for an hour and, if they’re lucky, they may complete a sentence. It is what feels like a complete drying up of the spring from which a writer’s creativity flows. Or like a beaver came along when the writer wasn’t looking and built a dam.
Not exactly a fun experience for any writer in theory and in practice. But with time and experience, I’ve gathered some tips to help combat writer’s block. For those who think their block is caused by a chaotic life, please refer to my post on How To Balance Writing and Life for some helpful tips to balance the two. Those who feel their writer’s block is caused by other things, read on to discover my top three tips for combating writer’s block.
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1) Work With Your Creative Rhythm
Sometimes writer’s block is caused by writing at midnight when you’re more creative right after waking up or during lunch. The easiest way to get writing again in this situation tends to be simply moving your writing time to one that works better for you.
Yes, it may mean getting up an hour early or going to sleep an hour later than you’d like. But working when you’re naturally most creative helps make things easier. It can even make other types of writer’s block easier to manage.
Working with your creative rhythm is also a quick fix for those who are trying to write when their brain is too exhausted to devote attention to the task.
2) Read A Book
Reading is perhaps my most used way of combating writer’s block. It’s also one of the most common things you’ll see suggested online for when someone is trying to write and the words just won’t come out. This is because reading allows us to immerse ourselves in something other than our trouble for a time. Let’s us see new worlds or return to worlds as comfortable to us as our favorite pair of slippers on a cold winter’s night with snow falling outside.
The next time you feel blocked, find a book of your choosing and read for a little bit. I have some old favorites I like to read when blocked:
A classic of Science Fiction, I’ve loved H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine since I was a little girl. It makes me smile and I consider it to be the reason I love Science Fiction so much. Time travel and adventures. What’s not to love about that? There’s also the added benefit of each reread, even if it is just a chapter or two, always giving me new ideas. Making me ask, what if…?
Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice is not Science Fiction, nor is it Speculative Fiction at all. But it is a book I always return to. Rereading in its entirety on a yearly basis and in a piecemeal way when I’m blocked. I blame the dynamic between Darcy and Elizabeth. It makes the story far more interesting than it would be without it.
Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Epic Fantasy work, is also something I repeatedly reread. I chock it up to the fact the world of Middle Earth is so well-built that there is always something new to learn about it. Come to think of it, Lord of The Rings is likely why I love Orcs so much.
And last but not least is a tie between Anne Rice and Octavia Butler. Both writers I love for different reasons. Butler’s Lilith’s Brood series is Literary Science Fiction at its best. The sparse descriptions and awesome plotting feeding into the point being made throughout each book. Anne Rice has a very lush style of writing that I like to wallow in when blocked. I also end up wanting to cuddle Louis every time I read Anne Rice’s Interview with The Vampire, strange though that may seem.
There are other books I love and read when experiencing writer’s block, of course. But I tend to return to one of the above when my creative side needs to recharge. They’re that good and I’m that sentimental.
When books don’t work, however, I love to make myself tea and listen to podcasts I like.
3) Listen To A Podcast
Sometimes books fail. Or we just aren’t in the mood to read because life is too hectic as is. In those situations, I’ve found listening to a podcast helps get me back on track. My two favorite ones being Writing Excuses and The Hopeless Romantic.
Writing Excuses is a podcast run by a small group of pretty well-known Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Horror writers. It focuses on the general craft of writing, but most of the examples and content are geared more towards writers of Speculative Fiction. Each podcast, which has been airing on Sunday lately, is less than twenty-five minutes long. When I want to learn and be entertained by awesome banter, I go to writingexcuses.com and listen to whichever podcast catches my attention.
The Hopeless Romantic is a podcast focused mostly on Queer Romance. Hosted by Austin Chant and Amanda Jean, the podcast can run up to over an hour and a half long. But with episode titles like Gay Elves and Sexy Lizard People, how can I resist?
As you develop your own list of writing-related podcasts you love, you’ll notice a theme. Personally, I’m a sucker for a title that makes me smile or is informative in some way. Embrace it. Finding material that is comforting and gets you writing is a great way to boost productivity and lift your mood, and there’s no shame in it. Shame and denial only feed into writer’s block.
Want some Writing Excuses and The Hopeless Romantic episode recommendations? Some more book recommendations? To talk books, productivity, and writing? To see what I’m pinning? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
How do you combat writer’s block?