It’s the most dreaded experience a writer can have. Once, you had an idea, a dream. You couldn’t let it go. Around it, you built sandcastles in the air, tied plot lines to it, made unique characters come to life. You discovered something marvelous, and you just need to translate it to words.
You sit down to write. It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. The excitation, the inspiration, the stirring sensation, it all just… Fades away.
Don’t you just hate that feeling?
My godmother always says you’ll find what you’ll look for, and I completely agree. But you cannot find something that’s not there. Before you find the solution, you must recognize the cause. And that is way trickier than actually getting over your block.
I’ll share some of my most effective ways of beating writer’s block. You can apply these to poems, novels, essays or obituaries, wherever you find said blockage. And none of these methods will scar your skin.
- Take a step back. Sometimes, the writer’s block stems from a completely wrong approach. Whatever you want to write about, you need material. If you want readers and quality content, that is.
If you write simply for the joy of tapping away the keyboard without a care in the world, go ahead and write aimlessly. But if you want to build a respectable and solid text, don’t shoot in the dark. Take a step back to look at the bigger picture. What’s the message you want to get across to your readers? What’s the point of the text? What do you think of the topic you’re writing about? What do you want to say?
If you don’t have anything to say, don’t write. Don’t be careless with your words, or no one will listen to them.2. Write what you know.
If you have no interest whatsoever in train engines, don’t promise your readers a series on the structure and maintenance of train engines. You’ll sound as monotone as a middle school teacher counting the days to retirement.There’s a passion in seeking out the right words. You must be fearless and headstrong, or you’ll be empowered by the bounty of words and expressions.
Being overwhelmed can block your writing, especially when starting out.
If you’re a new blogger (like me), it can be hard to know where to start. Luckily, there’s a lot of help to find out there (I’m collecting blogging tips on Pinterest here).
But you and only you decide what you write about, and you know writing’s not easy. At least what you’re writing about should be something that lights a spark in you.
3. Find your voice. Your writer’s voice is your literary DNA. If someone were to sit down and analyze your text, your words, your grammatical structure, what would they find? I know I have a flair for long, flowing sentences that can be difficult to follow, as well as outdated structures that stem from a long overdue romance with Victorian poetry. What does that say about me?
That’s a question you should keep in the back of your mind as you write. Your writer’s voice is crucial to the text you’re writing. You might share the perspective of thousands of writers before you. Your ideas may not be awe-inspiring and brand new.
But the words, the way you tell them, are yours. And they can captivate and inspire and sound wonderfully unique, but for that to happen, they must be your words.
4. Stick to your guns. Once you’ve captured a topic that feels wild and interesting enough, don’t abandon it at the first sign of trouble. If you feel there is something you need to say about something, if you have some gut feeling there is something to be found on a topic, in a text, go find it.
There’s always doubt in my mind when I’m writing. On how it will turn out, if I’ll be able to capture the essence of what I need to say. I’m afraid of the response I’ll get; of harsh critique, of resentment, of losing people’s respect. I’m afraid of not getting any reactions at all.
If there’s a little voice in your head doubting you, picture a face for that annoying voice, and break that face like a porcelain doll. Don’t be defined by your doubts. Defy them.
5. Change perspective. This can be nerve-wrecking, especially if you’ve already written a great deal and then found yourself in front of a massive writer’s block. But it might be surprisingly refreshing, too. You might stumble upon a rabbit hole and discover a whole new wonderland to write about.
You know there are (at least) two sides to every story. And yours should, too. To create dimensions and depth you need solid ground and the possibility to build on that ground. Research might come in helpful here again. You might want to look into fields related to the one you’re writing about.
For instance, if you write a story about a dog, you might want to look into typical illnesses for that dog, or the cultural backgrounds of the people caring for the dog; you might want to check up on how dogs communicate, how they move, what makes them happy. Look at social media for dog-related tags and posts. Look at how dog haters view dogs.
Anything that can color your word picture with a new shade, to give it more depth. Any information is useful, in the right setting. Exercise your brain. Even if you think you know everything, do some research.
Find out if you’re wrong. Admit it, own it, and build on it. Widen your ground, strengthen it. Be comfortable and secure in your words.
You’ll be a better writer for it. Hell, you’ll be a better person.