Today, we’re starting out with the Writing Challenge right away. Great ways to get past writer’s block are best addressed in a specific order.
So address them in a specific order we shall, starting with this message of hope:
Don’t let writer’s block stop you.
Writer’s block doesn’t have to be the end of the writing road for you if you don’t want it to be. There are ways to deal with it if you really want to see your copy or manuscript through to the end.
Sometimes it involves an extra dose of grit and determination. Sometimes it involves a new perspective. Sometimes it involves a distraction or external help.
In fact, there are so many different ways to get around, past, over or through writer’s block that we need two whole blog posts to cover it. Starting with this one.
First though, we have a single segue before we get to the meat of “this one”…
When you find writer’s block hitting, it is okay to assess whether you want to keep on going or not. There’s no shame in quitting a story or nonfiction writing project, just as long as you do it with the right attitude for the right reasons.
Overall, as long as you don’t throw your manuscript down in despair, declaring that you’re worthless and will never amount to anything, you have Innovative Editing’s full permission to set your story aside.
All I ask is that you make sure it’s worth your while first.
If, after honestly contemplating that question, you conclude that you want to persevere after all... then let’s list off those great ways to get past writer’s block… which we were supposed to start with four paragraphs ago.
So much for being orderly.
Sometimes, when struggling with writer’s block, we need a little TLC: someone to hug us and say, “There. There. Poor baby.”
Then again, sometimes we need an internal or external drill sergeant to say something more along the lines of, “Poor baby. Boo hoo. Suck it up already, and get back to work!”
Way #1 calls for the latter, barking at you to put your pen back to the paper or your fingers back to the keyboard, and force them to move again.
Move! Move! Move!
The initial results, admittedly, might look something like this:
I have absolutely no idea what I’m writing right now. Like none whatsoever. But stupid Innovative Editing told me to try this out to see where my story goes, so I’m going to – right before I send that Jeannette DiLouie a VERY pointed email about how dumb she is.
Yet after a few paragraphs, you could find yourself writing VERY differently:
Oh! Wait. Never mind…
For the record, none of these ways to get past writer’s block are foolproof, and this one is no exception. With that disclaimer stated though, forcing yourself to write a next line and then a next paragraph and possibly even a next page can jog your manuscript-making skills back into play.
Sure, you’ll probably delete that next line, next paragraph and next page in the final copy. Maybe even right away. But that doesn’t mean the effort was wasted.
How can it be if you’re where you want to be again?
If that doesn’t appeal to you or you’ve already tried it and it didn’t work, here’s a much more pleasant prospect.
You know that chapter you’ve been dying to write ever since you began working on your manuscript? The one that doesn’t happen until at least the midway point?
Go ahead and write it. Who cares that you’re normally a linear kind of writer. If writer’s block has its way, you’re not going to be a writer at all. So skip ahead, and show it who’s the real boss.
In the process of all that fun, you will probably find yourself writing down things that need to be established well before that point… quite possibly even in the chapter you got stuck on.
Out of all the ways to get past writer’s block, #3 and #4 are by far the most delicious.
Here's #3: Eat chocolate.
No really. Get up. Go to your snack stash. Grab a whole handful of chocolate, and take them back to your notebook or computer desk.
If you’re not into chocolate, go for Twizzlers or the praline pecan ice cream in the freezer. Call for pizza delivery if that’s what you’re craving. The exact comfort food you choose doesn’t matter.
What does matter is the comfort as you continue to write.
To be sure, your inner or outer drill sergeant is still there telling you to keep going, but not with a stick anymore. He has a tasty, tasty carrot (cake?) this time.
This is a positive, productive use of short-term gratification for long-term motivation. Which flows right into our Ways to Get Past Writer’s Block #4.