‘O’ is for ‘Obstacle’
To a writer, there is nothing more intimidating than an empty page and an inability to fill it. Writer’s Block, or ‘The Wall’, can stem from a variety of different issues – each of them difficult to navigate or overcome. Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do in order to ‘beat the block’, and get back to your regular, productive level of writing:
1 Establish a Routine. Writing is easier with routine. Make a regular schedule, a time every day when you sit down and just write, and you’ll find that it’s easier (and quicker) to enter ‘the zone’.
2 Take a Break. To add frustration to inability, Writer’s Block tends to strike at those moments when we are already feeling less than our best. Pressured, tired, worn out, lacking motivation, sad, stressed … all of these things can contribute to a temporary inability to write. The truth is, you need a break. So it is important for you to take some time to just relax, and recharge. Go for a walk, work on a different project, read a book, have a short holiday, catch up with friends or family members, or treat yourself to a day/evening of pamper and pleasure – take a bath, have a good meal, get an early night. Relax, breathe, and then go back to your writing.
3 Remove any Distractions. It’s easy to get distracted during your writing time – there are so many different things competing for your time and attention. So consider removing as many of these distractions as you can before you sit down to write. Turn your mobile phone off, or put it on silent. Lock your door. You can download free Internet blockers that prevent you from accessing the Internet for the duration of your writing session, or writing programmes that take over your full screen and prevent you from closing or accessing any other page or programme for a set time. Tidy your writing space/room. Dust, vacuum, wash – you’ll be surprised at how effectively a clean and clear room helps to clean and clear a messy mind. Tell friends, family members, flat mates (etc) that you will be writing for X hours, and are only to be disturbed for emergencies.
4 Warm Up. Help yourself to get into the flow of writing quickly by warming your mind and hands up with a quick writing sprint or task. Complete a writing exercise at the start of every writing session – write for so many pages, or so many minutes. Brainstorm, or profile, or describe. Write about your plans, write about your day. A short, set time of unhindered writing can also clear any rogue thoughts or thought processes from your head that might otherwise hinder or slow your flow.
5 Embrace Change. Change can be refreshing, so if you’ve slowed or stalled with your writing – consider changing your environment, your routine, or writing set-up. Move outside and breathe the fresh air. Move upstairs, or downstairs. Move into a different room. Reconsider and brainstorm your plot – should anything be changed? Change your writing time: last thing at night no longer/not currently working? Get an early night and try writing first thing in the morning. Write at the beach, at a coffee shop, on a park bench. Write by hand. Dictate/orate your story by DNS enabled Dictaphone, and upload it later. Be creative. Motivate yourself.
6 Release. Sometimes the ‘block’ is less about writing, and more about other frustrations that are going on in our lives. Try to let out that frustration – take a day or two to unwind, talk to a close confidant, write a letter (don’t post it!), rant, scream, cry, whatever you need to do. Let out that emotional block that is stopping you from your writing, and don’t forget to drink plenty of water and get a good sleep.
7 Switch Your Mediums. Try using a different writing method – print off your latest chapter, pick up a pen, and go outside and write the next section by hand. Swap Microsoft Word for Scrivener (eg), or type directly into an Internet document. Change your PC for your laptop. Find a different way to approach continuing your work. Use a typewriter. Write in pink. Change your font, or background.
8 Drink Water. It is very important to make sure that you are constantly, and consistently, hydrated. It’s always worth keeping a glass, bottle, jug of water at your desk. Water is not only good for your body, it is also good for your brain, your health, and your energy levels.
9 Change Sections. If you’ve come to a halt, consider moving to a different part of your book. Skip the scene, chapter, page that you are currently writing, and start again somewhere else – somewhere you are excited about, or looking forward to writing. You can always go back to that first section later on, when you know more about where it needs to take you and your characters.
10 Just Do It. Sometimes, all you can do is keep going. In those moments every word feels as heavy as writing a whole paragraph of them would normally have been, so make sure to view your output/achievements in the same way. Forget about editing, grammar, capital letters, and just write. Write your way through the block. You’ll find that the ‘block’ is (relatively) sshort-lived and that your ability to write becomes much easier. Celebrate!