For most freelance writers, especially those who make their living writing, writer’s block can come at the absolutely worst time. It always seems to sneak up right around the time our manuscripts and articles are due, and it stays for hours, days, even weeks. The more you think about it, talk about it, and worry about it, the worse it becomes.
Chances are that scientists will find a cure for the common cold long before they find a cure for writer’s block. Still most veteran writers have one or two tricks up their sleeve for lessoning the pain. If you find yourself stuck, give one of these ideas a try.
STOP WRITING MID-IDEA
I wish I could take credit for this one, but writers have been using this little trick for years. It’s simple: stop writing in the middle of the idea you’re working on. On the surface, it seems counterintuitive; if you’ve got more to say, shouldn’t you say it? But here’s the idea: if you write until you’ve exhausted your idea, you’ll have no idea where to begin when you pick it up again. If, on the other hand, you stop mid-idea, you’ll often find that when you start up again, you’ll not only be able to complete the idea you were working on, you’ll find yourself naturally moving on to the next idea.
DON’T WRITE LINEARLY OR CHRONOLOGICALLY
Most of us write linearly without even thinking. When you write a story, you start with the beginning and move on from there. None of us have a particularly good reason for doing this, it just seems like a logical progression. If you find yourself stuck at a specific part of a story or article, move on to a different part. Maybe start writing the climax, or even go directly to the conclusion. It is often easier to figure out how a story is going to begin if you know where it’s headed.
WRITE SOMETHING YOU HAVE NO INTENTION OF PUBLISHING
Writing is supposed to be fun. It should be something you would do (and enjoy), even if no one ever read a word you wrote. It stops being fun and starts feeling more like a job when you start worrying about publishers, agents and readers. So take fifteen minutes and remind yourself why you love to write. Write a letter to a friend, a movie review, a bio of an imaginary person, your eulogy, a fan letter to your favorite movie star or any one of a thousand different things. The idea is to remind yourself why you’re a writer in the first place.
TELL A FRIEND A STORY
You are, after all, a story teller. As writers, we sometimes get mixed up by all the verbs, adjectives, contracts, plot outlines, deadlines, etc, and we forget this very important fact. Remind yourself by telling a friend what you’re working on. Don’t even mention that it’s something you’re writing, just tell them a story. Then sit back, and wait for their reaction. Were they interested, excited, bored? What do they think will happen next? The answers you get will often be surprisingly and refreshingly simple.
DO SOMETHING YOU HATE DOING
Once again: writing is supposed to be fun. But like anything in life, if you do it all the time, even something you love can get boring. This tip helps you to recreate that feeling of excitement you should get when you sit down at your computer and begin writing. So do something you really don’t enjoy. Go for a run. Do your taxes. Call an annoying relative. Dust. Whatever it is, keep doing it until you’re so sick of it, you’re just dying for a break. Then promptly sit down and begin to write. Compared to what you were just doing, writing will seem like an incredible luxury.