Writing Tips:

Overcoming Writer's Block

Here are some writing tips that I often use to overcome writer's block.

All writers experience writer's block at some point in their writing career, and it seems like the more pressure they put on themselves, the worse it gets. I have spent a good deal of time talking with various writers and getting their suggestions on how to overcome this common problem. The following is a list of ideas that I have compiled, some of which are my own and have worked well for me in the past. Others are the ideas of successful authors who wanted to share their knowledge with fellow writers. I hope you find some of these techniques to be helpful!

KNOWN CURES:

  • Move away from the project - watch a related television show or movie or read a book instead, something on the same topic.
  • Draw, doodle, paint, sculpt, etc. - see where your art takes you.
  • Make sure you're comfortable - change your writing position. Try the floor or the kitchen table or outside at the park. A change of setting can do wonders.
  • Music - try listening to appropriate music that sets the mood for your project. For instance, listen to heavy metal or action movie soundtracks if writing an action sequence. Try love songs for a romantic sequence, etc.
  • Ask for help - friends and family, teachers and mentors all have good ideas that you would never have thought of yourself. Never be too private or too proud to ask for assistance from others.
  • Eat - try eating spicy foods that open your sinuses, or sweet foods that give you a quick spurt of energy.
  • Try another project - most writers have more than one project that they are working on at a time. Maybe the timing isn't right for the current project you're having trouble with. Try working on something else for a while, then come back to it.
  • Talk it through out loud - sometimes you can think better out loud if you listen to your own voice.
  • Find a list of writing prompts (there are whole books on this subject, but there is also a continually growing list of writing prompts on this website).
  • Outline - try making an outline of the entire plot, beginning to end. This is taking an eagle-eye view of the project, and can give you a better perspective on where you're going.
  • Ask yourself the following question, "If I was reading this story instead of writing it, what would I most want to see happen, just for my own pleasure?"
  • Always keep a writer's notebook with you - keep it by your bed so you can write down your dreams when you first wake up (the answer might be in your dreams!). Take it with you when you go places or when you read a book or watch a movie. You never know when the answer to your block will appear before your eyes. But beware, it can disappear just as quickly! So always write it down in your notebook. Also keep lists of phrases, people, places and other notes there.
  • Try writing out of sequence - no one says you have to write chapter one before you start chapter two. Maybe if you skip the difficult stuff in the part you're working on and try writing something that happens later in the story, you'll be able to go back and fill in the blanks more easily. Write the parts you do know, that way at least you'll have something on paper. You'll be making progress.
  • Do more character development. Make sure you really CARE about your main character. If this person hasn't captured a part of your heart, it's going to be hard to write about him/her. Most characters who are well fleshed out demand that you write about them. They'll help you overcome your block all by themselves!
  • Observe real people and watch the news. To coin a clich√©, fact is often stranger than fiction. Real people do strange things and make themselves easy subjects to write about.
  • Play role-playing games if you're a fantasy writer. RPGs are the best way to get into the mode of the adventure, and you'll get lots of ideas from whatever quest you happen to be on.
  • Lastly, OVERCOME PERFECTIONISM IN THE FIRST DRAFT!!!!! - It's not going to be perfect in the first draft. Just get your ideas down and push yourself to finish the project, no matter how sloppy it is in the initial stages. If you bog yourself down with perfectionism (i.e. wanting the words to flow beautifully and the characters to just spring instantly to life), you'll never complete the project!


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