I certainly have had my share of writers block—particularly lately as I've been promising this new and improved blog, chockfull of wonderful tips. All I need for a good case of block is high personal expectations + my own natural fear of failure and boom! I'm blocked.
Under the assumption that most writers will experience some degree of writing blockage during their writing careers, here are a few tips that have helped me.
- Pack away the perfectionism.
When I'm starting a new project, getting the basic plot and characters down, I have to consciously give myself permission to do it imperfectly. The important thing is to get something down on paper, I can always go back and fix it later. Sometimes I even intentionally write poorly, just to break my brain out of that "gotta do it right" psychosis.
- Work on multiple stories.
I always have a couple of projects going at the same time. If I get blocked on one, I can switch to something else for a bit. Usually I can find something that will get the creative process started. Once I've had a little success with one project, I can go back to the one that is stumping me.
- Write a never-to-see-the-light-of-day book.
If I'm not immediately in the mood to write when I sit down at my computer, I'll open my "silly book" and work on it for about 15 minutes. This book is a clichéd story (for me, usually a mystery) with no outline and no plot. I pick up where I left off last time and write—not knowing what is going to happen next until it shows up on the screen in front of me. Working on this book also helps break that perfectionism cycle.
- Interview your character(s).
Ask them silly questions, like what they had for breakfast that morning or what they've got planned for the weekend—or even, what the heck is your problem? Sometimes I've discovered amazing things about my character(s) that add richness to my story.
- Watch really bad television or movies.
Some days when I can't get going on any of my projects, I'll watch a show that I know is pretty bad and think about how I would have done it differently. This helps get the creativity going and then I can apply it to my novel.
- Stick to a schedule.
I know, easier said than done. But I've found that when I stick to a regular schedule, my brain learns that at a certain time of day, it's supposed to shift to a creative focus and the blocks become less frequent. Kind of like eating at a certain time of day trains your body to be hungry at certain times.
These are just a few of the things I do to overcome writers block. What are some of your best tips?