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Ten ways to overcome writer's block

Most writers suffer from writer’s block at least once in their lives. Whether caused by a lack of inspiration, time, or exhaustion, it’s bound to happen at some point. If your writing isn’t flowing, then there are some things you can do to get yourself back on track. The methods listed below may not work for every writer, but they’re certainly worth a try.

1. Go for a walk

Taking a walk can improve focus

Taking time away from your writing to go for a walk can be beneficial. Movement stimulates the brain by supplying cells with oxygen and this can help generate new ideas. Walking, or exercise of any kind also increases energy, reduces stress and helps calm the body and mind. This relaxed, energised state is ideal for focusing the mind and for processing ideas. If you start taking daily walks, particularly when you’re suffering from bouts of writer’s block, you focus and writing flow should start to improve.

2. Take a few days off

Relaxing helps to stimulate fresh ideas

It would be difficult to write all day, every day. Whilst you may think that other writers and authors write fiercely all the time, this is almost certainly not the case. Yes, some writers are able to sit for hours and produce thousands of words, but most of us need to take a break now and then. Taking a day or two off, or even a week, won’t hurt your writing. In fact, you’ll probably find you write better after some time off. It’s important to step away from your work to give yourself time to relax and recuperate.

3. Change your environment

Try writing in a different space

While some writers like to sit at a desk to do their work, others prefer to write in a cafe or even outside. It's entirely down to personal preference, but if you are someone who likes to sit in the same place all the time, then perhaps try mixing things up. Changing your writing environment can help to shift creative blocks. Try writing outside, on holiday, on a train, or simply in a different room to where you usually work. You may find that your writing flows best in the strangest places.

4. Develop a routine

A routine can give you fixed guidelines

We all know that routines help with many aspects of life. Whether you’re writing full-time or only occasionally, finding a routine that works for you can be beneficial. Try allocating yourself a set writing time every week, or every day, to get you started. You can set yourself challenges, tasks, word limits and time frames. Whatever kind of routine you develop, it will soon feel natural and will hopefully help you to improve your creative flow.

5. Develop a plan

A plan can be created at any stage

Although some writers prefer to jump straight into their story, creating a plan first can keep writer’s block at bay. A plan gives the writer a plot structure from which further details can be developed. A plan can be created at any stage of the writing process, but it’s easier if they’re fixed before you start writing. You don’t even have to form a complete plan. If it’s easier, simply lay out a chapter, section, or even just a paragraph.

6. Write by hand

Writing by hand can prevent distractions

Writing by hand may take longer and give you cramp, but if you’re suffering from writer’s block, it can be a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Writing by hand means you don’t have any screen-based distractions and can work without worrying about spelling, punctuation, and formatting. If you struggle to write with a pen, try to write your plans or notes on paper to add some variety. The connection made between you and the pen generates a new perspective and requires a different kind of concentration.

7. Don’t start at the beginning

Jump straight into the story

It’s a natural thought to start at the beginning of a novel or any written piece and work through to the end. However, the beginning is often the hardest section to write. When you start the first draft, it doesn’t matter how you format your writing. What matters is getting the story out. If you’re struggling with the beginning, then jump to the middle or even the end. Just remember to connect all the threads when writing a second draft.

8. Don’t look back

The first draft doesn't have to be perfect

When writing the first draft, it's important not to keep looking back! If you’re continually returning to the pages you’ve already written, you’ll never get to the end. A far more successful way to write is to complete the first draft before you re-read the manuscript. It’s fine to run fact checks, but don’t get lost in the reading. No writer is entirely satisfied with their first draft, or even a final draft, so don’t put a block in your own way by constantly returning to the beginning.

9. Stop writing for readers

Start by writing for yourself

Many authors will tell you that if you write for a reader, you’ll always be trying to make it perfect. Start by writing for yourself, as if no one but you is ever going to read it. Whilst you still have to make your plot comprehensive and gripping and have an audience in mind, there’s no need to get caught up with details during your first few drafts.

10. Stop comparing yourself to other writers

Every writer is different

Every writer is different, so there’s no need to worry about what and how much someone else is writing. Write once a month, back to front, sitting in the kitchen sink if you like. It’s your choice.

Yes, there are certain rules that will help you write better and agents often set specific guidelines, but the creative process belongs to you alone. You’re the only one who can make yourself do it, so forget the rules and write!


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