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Writer's Block: Cause and Solution

Updated on February 5, 2017

What the Web Tells Us About Writer's Block

Writer's block is often portrayed as a crippling state in which the writer simply cannot write. As a result, It is the writer's most feared adversary.

Furthermore, it is often thought that the cure to writers block is either to write whatever gibberish comes to mind or wait until inspiration returns, neither of which are very appealing options.

I am here to reassure you that writer's block is a perfectly normal part of the writing process and that it can not only be worked around, but can be essential in the creation of quality writing.

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What Can Cause A Block?

Fear

Known as the 'blank page syndrome'. This form of writers block has a lot to do with self trickery. Somehow, when we see a blank page, we lose faith in our ability to fill the spaces. Our thoughts start to race and we see the end way, way off in the distance. At these times, you just need to calm yourself. A little writing every day will get you to the final goal. Nobody expects you to achieve everything at once.

Lack of Motivation

Let's face it, writing is difficult. It takes a lot of time and effort. It causes a lot of frustration so it comes as no surprise that a writer's motivation falters. Do not let it worry you. If you truly enjoy writing, then you will always return to it with renewed passion.

Lack of Information

Today you decided that it would be a great idea to write a story about an orphan, but you know nothing about orphanages or children. You just have your own mash of experiences and book learning, and this is not making you feel confident. That's alright. All this means is that you want to be a credible author, you want the facts straight. The internet is here to help.

High Standards

Similar to the first cause of writer's block, a writer's own self-criticism can prevent them from writing. It can be easy to get trapped in the cycle of "I can't write anything good so I won't write anything at all". At times like these, remember to give yourself a break. For taking the time to seek out advice, you are already a much better writer than you believe and if you feel truly dissatisfied, then know that you don't have to share your writing until you feel the time is right.



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Solutions to Writer's Block

Reasonable Expectations

I always set out to finish one chapter at a time. Sometimes this one chapter will be finished in a day and sometimes it will be finished in a month depending on my other work and if I can get over my other writing blocks. I have learned to accept this and to savor every small victory.

I like to create a point-form list of plot elements (I think of them as bread crumbs) that I want to hit during a chapter to create more achievable goals.

Go For a Walk

It doesn't matter if you are at work or at home, staring at a page for hours can put you to sleep. I know that you were told to write, but while you're not doing anything you might as well go for a short walk. This will clear the fog from your head, lighten your mood, give you time to mull over any problems, and possibly lead to some people watching inspiration.

Research and Planning

This may include the research of real world facts, determining the rules of your world, or putting down plot points. You might ask yourself, "What does my character want?". Often a lack of knowledge will hinder our writing as we strive to properly portray our story's characters and world.

Try a New Perspective

If your characters are hunting out at night, send them out in the daytime. If they are getting up in the morning, start with them ready and running to their destination. Think back a day forward or behind. Basically, change the starting point of the scene. Don't get stuck thinking that it has to happen one way and be willing to scrap some material that no longer works.

I have been saved many times by doing this. This is especially useful for those who have re-written a scene several times, but remain unsatisfied with the results. Often I discover that starting the scene from the perspective of a different character or moving it back or forward in time can be just what was needed to move ahead.

Skip It

If you are stuck on a little detail, try leaving a blank space with instructions to fill in the information later. This happens to me often with character names and places, and sometimes with descriptions of clothing or buildings. Just make sure that the detail you skip is not important to the plot (e.g you decide ). This method should be used sparingly or else you risk finding gaps in your story when you go back to edit. Nobody likes to do something twice.

Read Other Stories

When you read the work of other authors, you instinctively pick out what you like and don't like about the writing, characters, and plot. In doing so you may get ideas for your own writing. I like to think that I can write something even better by the time I'm finished.

Read About Writing

With all the free time you have from not writing, you have a whole new opportunity to better yourself. Plus, I find that after a while you will realize that you already know how to write and, since you are now bored of wasting your time on the internet, you will quickly get back to writing.

Listen to Music

For those times that you know what you want to write, but don't feel like writing, some good music can put you in the proper mood.

Listen to Free Music

Find a Writing Prompt

With hundreds of available prompts including single words, scenarios, pictures, and entire plot lines, there is certainly something for you.

Get inspired

Follow Your Desire

Abandon the current writing task and take a break. Just remember to return to writing. I find that switching between different stories helps. This way I can still be somewhat productive.

Most Importantly, have fun.

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© 2014 DennyReese

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