Friday, October 15, 2010

How to beat Writer's Block

There are many, MANY books out on the market that offer advice on how to get over writer's block. You've seen them: they're filled with writing exercises that you can sit down to work on when you get stuck on the project you want to work on. They have advice from successful authors, quotes from important figures in history, and many of them repeat the idea that the best way to overcome your block is to sit down and write.

Well, that's not necessarily true. Sometimes you need to get up and walk away from your work just to get your mind off of it for a moment. I'm not saying you should give up, and don't stay away too long. If you hit a roadblock and you're fighting to write something, get up walk around the room for a moment. Do you have laundry that needs to be done? Start a load. Any rooms in the house that need to be neatened? Again, don't take to long, but pick up a few things and put them away. Let that story marinate in your head, somewhere in the background, and then jump right back in.

I've found that this works for one simple reason: I get stuck on one point, I can't figure out how to make it work based on what I've already written, and then I freak out about forcing myself to write something that I'd end up throwing out when I edit the work. So I stand up, take a five-minute breather (sometimes it ends up being a thirty-minute lunch) and when I get back, I re-read what I've written, including a few paragraphs before the place I got stuck, and I have a relaxed, somewhat detached perspective. This new point of view on my work allows me to make easy decisions that I never would have figured out if I kept forcing my way through the writing.

Question of the day: How do you fight writer's block?


  1. I do exactly what you do. Walk away for a moment (or a few moments--how long exactly is a moment?), or do something differently. Sometimes reading for a while will get me inspired. Luckily I've never had a block that lasted more than few days!

  2. I haven't had major, months-long blocks, but sometimes I get stuck for a week.

    Sometimes I write something else, but when the weather allows it (I live in Quebec, Canada), I go out for a walk. It frees my mind, and my thoughts wander about until they find a solution.