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Simple Cures for Writers Block

Updated on March 7, 2013

Writers block?

Anyone who does anything creative has experienced the phenomenon of being "blocked." For a writer, its that moment when the words just won't come.

All kinds of things are said about writers block ranging from "everyone gets it" to the rather uncharitable "it doesn't exist."

What do you do, though, when you have it? Try these simple tips.

Take a Walk

Going for a short walk outside can make a huge difference. Some writers find more vigorous exercise to be beneficial.

Make sure to take a notebook (or an electronic device such as a smartphone) with you so if the ideas do start flowing you can note them down. Go to the nearest park, down the street or even to the mall (ideas can often come from people watching).

Do Something Visual

Writing occupies the verbal side of the brain. Creativity requires the non-verbal side. Sometimes, writer's block happens when the creative side of your brain isn't responding.

The quickest way to get it to do so is to do something in the area of visual art, either as a creator or a consumer. Draw or doodle (even if you can't draw...this isn't about quality). Drawing scenes from what you are working on can also help you 'show' rather than 'telling'. Play a visual video game. Some dressup games and virtual pet games are perfect for getting that creativity unclogged so you can then go back to work.

Listen to Music

Putting on some music often helps. Most people say to use music with no lyrics when writing, but when blocked it can help to put on something that does have lyrics...they might contain the kernel of an idea.

If you play an instrument, it can help to switch to practicing it for a while.

Some people can't write at all without music on in the background. Mood music can be your friend for background noise.

Do Something Else Productive

If you're blocked and feel as if you're wasting half the day, then give up for now...and go do something else productive. Clean house, exercise, take the dog for a walk. It doesn't matter what, as long as it's something you can make real progress at.

You will then feel better about yourself and be more able to face whatever is causing the block. Also, you will have got things done, which is always a good thing.

Switch to Another Project

If a scene isn't coming, then it might be time to write something completely different. Work on non-fiction for a while (or fiction, if you were working on non-fiction). Or write something really easy like fanfic for a book you recently read.

Sometimes, writer's block is caused by us not wanting to deal with something in a particular scene. If you find a specific scene or chapter is constantly frustrating you, it might be time to approach what you want to do from a different angle.

Write Something, Anything

I call this the 'put one word in front of the other' approach. Just sit down, with a blank piece of paper or a blank screen and write whatever comes into your head.

If nothing comes into your head, write random words. This actually does work, and although you may produce nonsense you will have to throw away, it might also segue into something good. This is particularly useful if your writer's block is actually an absence of ideas for what to write next.

Use Prompts

If you're looking for a new project and have no idea where to start, writing prompts are a good idea. There are writing prompt sites all over the internet.

Another good way to trigger an idea is to do a random image search, pull up a photograph and try to write the story behind it. You can also do this with your own photographs. Song lyrics also make good writing prompts.

A prompt can be anything from a detailed scene description to one word such as 'Lust' or 'Death' or even 'Chocolate'.

Don't worry if you produce crap. The point is to keep writing. A quote that often circulates is "You can't edit a blank page."


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