Personally, I’ve never experienced writer’s block – but that’s because I don’t permit myself to acknowledge that it actually exists. There is nobody or nothing “blocking” you like a lock on your keyboard. Sure, there are times in life when you might not feel like writing or when you’ve had to pause writing for a long time and experience difficulty getting back into it. That’s life. But don’t see it as a block because then you WILL feel blocked. Think of it as a sign on the road that announces a road block. Does that mean you’ll cancel your trip? Or stop traveling altogether? No, you’ll find a different road and hope that detour will get you to your destination. That’s what I do if I ever feel that my writing mojo is low or my muse needs some prodding. So here are 4 strategies to overcome writer’s block that I fall back on.
Finding it hard to get back into a story, whether it’s after a hiatus or for a certain scene? Visual prompts might help. Find photos that remind you of your character(s), setting(s), plot, etc. Maybe one of those pictures has its own story to tell or will spark the beginning or pivotal scene of a chapter? Alternatively, use visual stimulation that isn’t connected to your story just so you get back into the writing flow via some minutes of (daily) freewriting. Surf your preferred social media – it’s bound to be full of images of all kinds. Google something. Go through your own photo collection even. Pick a picture and write, write, write.
If you feel as if you can’t write anything at all or if you’re at a time in life when you doubt yourself as a writer, go back to previously written books or stories. Rediscover your love for writing through the eyes of a reader. You’re the one who wrote this! Does it fill you with pride? Good, write something again and make yourself even prouder. Does it make you curious what happens to the characters next? Even better, write that scene. Do you find it doesn’t meet your expectations? Never mind, rewrite that story or sit down and pen something completely new that does fill you with satisfaction. There’s nothing better than a challenge to get the creative juices flowing, even if – or especially if – you’re challenging yourself. Alternatively, read some positive reviews. Realize that others enjoyed your work and might be looking forward to reading more from you.
3) Focus on writing
Sometimes, the block isn’t so much a block as it is “laziness”. Sorry, needed to be said. We writers are prone to distraction and even more prone to procrastination (myself included) and to making excuses, which is why it’s even more important that we focus on the matter at hand. Try to avoid any form of distraction. If you can, sit somewhere alone where no family members will interrupt you. Switch your phone off or mute notifications, log out of social media, and actually WRITE. Doesn’t matter if it feels crappy at first or like pulling teeth; the most important thing is that you’re writing. You can always rework and edit later but that won’t be possible unless you put actual words on paper. Some authors use apps like Ommwriter that help them eliminate distractions. Others set themselves a time frame (like a half hour or an hour of writing) or a word count to reach. Yet others reward themselves after writing with chocolate or a glass of wine or something else that makes typing worthwhile.
4) Seek support from fellow writers
Being part of a writers’ group or a more closely knit circle of author friends can be a huge help when you’re stuck in a rut. You can motivate each other, discuss what might be holding you back, even offer feedback on each other’s writing. Depending on the group and on how everyone interacts, there might be writing games to get the creative juices flowing, writing sprints (not just during NaNoWriMo, which is a great opportunity to overcome writer’s block in itself) or daily prompts or questions. When you surround yourself with people who write or who share your struggle, there’s more incentive to make that detour, find your own road and reach your destination.
Having always loved to read and write, Devika Fernando made her dream come true in 2014 when she became a self-published novelist. The Amazon bestselling author has released more than 10 eBooks in the genres contemporary romance, paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Her German and Sri Lankan roots influence her writing.