Written By Crystal Garnett
You know that awful feeling… when you want to write and nothing is coming. Normally, content flows, the story grows and the work is exciting. But today there is a brick wall. You try to scale it, you try to push, you try to write but it just gets worse. There is no real reason for it, which of course, makes it even more frustrating. One day you are writing well and the next you hit the wall.
Yep, it’s writer’s block and every writer has encountered it at one time or another. Whenever I try to push through a writer’s block, my work always suffers. I can go back and read through and totally see the difference in my writing. When I push it, I never write my best, plain and simple. It can be super frustrating and discouraging. But, it doesn’t have to be.
Writers block can be a great opportunity to grow as a writer. It can be useful in forcing you to take a break, step back and really examine your work. It can be an opportunity for editing and proof reading. It can be a blessing in disguise. It is all about how you approach it and the attitude you keep when faced with it.
So, what are some practical things you can do to embrace these times, grow from them and enhance your work? Let’s look at some practices that you can put in to places.
1. Get a different perspective.
Writer’s block can be a great opportunity to step back, look at things differently and get a different perspective. This might look like stepping away from your computer or writing desk, getting out and taking in life. Go for a walk and take in the beauty all around you. Spend a day at the park people watching and observing human interaction. Watch a movie that stirs you or makes you step outside your normal wheel-house. Call a friend and talk through your ideas to get an external perspective. Listen to some music, paint, or go for a drive. There are so many ways to accomplish this. Sometimes a writing block can be a great excuse to step back and look at your work from a different angle. This can be frustrating… or, you can use it as a tool to enhance your work.
2. Take the time to edit and proof read
I know for me, I often forget that proof reading and editing can be a great way to shake off the fog of a writer’s block and spark new ideas. Often when I go back and look through my previous writing I can reignite the original ideas and feelings that I first started with. Sometimes, reading through, editing, and tweaking my earlier work can spark new ideas, give me new direction, or help me remember ideas I once had but never put into my work. Plus, I get a chance to perfect my earlier work, making future proof reading easier. Even if this doesn’t spark new ideas, at least you are using your time to do something productive. You are perfecting your art and growing your piece.
3. Take a break
If you are anything like me, it is sometimes hard to recognize when I need a break. Sometimes I am so excited about the work I am doing that I want to see it finished and I find myself consumed by the desire to keep pressing on. But, even our creativity needs a break from time to time. We need to allow our minds and bodies time to recoup. Taking a few days off, guilt free, to relax and recharge is sometimes all we need. Sometimes a writer’s block is your body’s way of asking for a day off. So, take some time off and don’t stress about it. Then when you have had time to recharge you can start again more renewed and recharged and your work will reflect that.
4. Read your work aloud
For some reason, we hear things differently than we read them. Sometimes reading your work aloud helps you to hear something you might not have read silently. Find a quiet room where you can read aloud without disturbing anyone or feeling awkward. Talk through your work, listening for how your reader may interpret your words. If someone else was telling you the story or reading your work to you, where would you expect it to go? What kind of plot twists would you expect if it were a movie? Can you picture the scenes and ideas based on just the words you are speaking without your own thoughts? Is there a way that you can beef up your descriptions to make it more understandable? Reading aloud can be a great way to hear things and make your work even better. Or, if you have someone you trust, have them read to you. This can be an amazing way to get out of your funk.
5. Develop your characters and scenes more
A writer’s block can be a great way to take a step back and look at your characters and scenes to ask yourself if you have developed them well. Often, when I read amateur or sub-par work, this is one of the most common problems. The story may be interesting, but the author hasn’t taken the time to build the pillars of the story for me. It’s as if you went to a play but they didn’t take the time to build the set, make costumes, or assure the lighting worked. You may be hearing the dialog, but you are missing out on so much of the story. So, ask yourself a few things… Does your reader see your characters the way you do? Have you explained the little details or just the major ones? Can your readers picture the places you are describing and the people you are telling a story about? Sometimes, in our excitement to get the story told, we can easily skip over details that will enhance and enrich our work. Let a writer’s block be a fantastic opportunity to step back from the story and build the pillars that hold the story up.
They say that so much of success depends on your attitude and when it comes to overcoming a writer’s block, nothing could be truer. If you let it frazzle you, frustrate you and defeat you then you not only run the risk of it lasting longer than necessary, but you also rob yourself of the opportunity to grow as an artist and in turn grow your work. Writer’s blocks will come, even for the most experienced writers. But, just like everything else in life, it is all about your perspective.