Let’s face it; we’ve all been there. From typing out thirty whole pages in an hour
to your fingers stilling over the keyboard and your mind going as blank as the
screen before you, the cursor blinking tauntingly. The disease that no amount of
disinfectant will discourage—writer’s block.
Here are five ways to overcome this epidemic that has resulted in the
indefinite hiatus of many a great literary masterpiece.
1. Take a Break
I’m sure you think that this advice is overrated because it’s the one that’s dished out on every writing website as a remedy to writer’s block. Well, my friends, it’s
dispensed so frequently for a reason. Do we question the merits of Koththamalli
despite it being every mother’s answer to everything from a common cold to the
coronavirus? No, we do not. Overrated does not mean ineffective!
Sit up from that wheelie-chair you’ve been glued to for the past several hours
staring miserably at your computer screen hoping for the project to start writing
itself. Take a walk through your house, take a refreshing shower, have some actual human interaction, take your mind off things and come back when you start thinking of your project as something you want to do, instead of a deadline you’re trying to make. Get some fresh air, some coffee, some good conversation and hopefully you’ll be good to go.
2. Writing Prompts
I’m sure we’ve all seen these sometimes-so-weird-you-wonder-what-these-people-are-on prompts that appear on the internet and if you haven’t, just google “writing prompts”.
But trust me when I tell you there’s nothing that fuels your imagination, and by
extension your writing, more than a prompt that reads ‘When you get kidnapped, it’s up to the monster in your closet, your assigned demon and the FBI guy in charge of watching your phone to rescue you”, or, “A depressed alchemist brews a love potion so he can love himself again” (credit: @writing.prompt.s on Instagram). There’s a whole range of prompts out there!
You can try your hand at a few of these prompts and who knows, maybe what started as a writing exercise could morph into a fully-blown plot, or it could kick-start your imagination enough for you to continue with that story you’ve been stuck on for ages. Either way, it’s a win!
3. Read a Good Book
If you feel like you’re lacking the inspiration to write, then read. Most of the time, writer’s block means you’ve been going over your work way too
many times, scrolling up through the pages, re-reading your paragraphs, subjecting them to so much scrutiny that you’ve forgotten to enjoy what you’ve written.
It’s often refreshing to take a break from your own writing voice and delve into
some others’ on occasion. Sometimes, all you need is some pretty prose or some
action-packed thriller for you to want to continue writing for yourself.
4. Word Vomit
I know, it doesn’t sound very attractive, but I mean exactly what I say. Often we
write while we’re concentrating too much on wanting to achieve perfection. That
means editing, re-writing, eventual head-banging and ultimately, the grim self-
diagnosis of writer’s block. But remember, a first draft is never the final draft.
Concentrate on just spilling your ideas on to paper, don’t worry about capital
letters and punctuation and deep Instagram-worthy quotes. Don’t even worry about plot-holes!
As Neil Gaiman said, “Write down everything that happens in the story and then in your second draft make it look like you knew what you were doing all along.”
5. Write for yourself
Writing what your readers want to read and not what you want to write is a surefire way to writer’s block. It means you’re going to be second-guessing your every word and looking at it from the viewpoint of your readers. Taking a break to do some journal-ing, some introspective poetry, or just writing something personal in your diary can help you get back on track to writing for yourself instead of pandering to your readers’ wants.
That said, don’t let a temporary block ever hinder your progress. Your work could be the next Harry Potter, the next great masterpiece, the next universal favourite.
Don’t leave it unwritten.