Friday, January 29, 2016

8 Techniques for Fighting Writer's Block

Being a writer, or trying to be one, is really hard. You think authors just whip out a novel like it’s easy peasy? Nope. Lots of sweat and tears and frustrations are involved. Having writer’s block is possibly the worst thing to happen to a writer. Sitting at your desk, staring at the blank screen in front of you, fingers on the keyboard—and nothing. I’ve gone weeks without being able to write anything (even a simple blog post). There’s lots of advice out there for writer’s block, but if you’re anything like me most of it doesn’t help you. These are some techniques I’ve had success with, whether big or small. 

1. Go to a site that posts photos, such as Tumblr, WeHeartIt, StumbleUpon in the photography section, Instagram, etc. Scroll through until you find a picture that catches your interest or inspires you. Now, write a paragraph or even a passage that relates to that picture. Try not to think too much into it and just write whatever comes to mind. If you’re looking for a challenge, stick to the first random picture you find (even if it doesn’t interest you whatsoever). See what you can come up with. You never know!

2. Read a book. Sometimes what we need is a bit of inspiration from others. It helps to read a book and check out that author’s writing style. If you really like it, it will hopefully inspire you to follow their footsteps. If you really hate it, hopefully that will inspire you to write something even better! Either way, reading other people’s work helps you figure out what you do and don’t like, and that’s certainly a good step in doing your own writing. 

3. Describe one of the happiest days of your life (or one of the worst). Not only will this get you writing, but it will probably spark strong emotions in you as you recall how you felt on that day. Sometimes writer’s block comes from simply being bored and uninspired. If you think back to a moment in your life when your emotions were running high (whether in a good or bad way) it can help fuel your writing. A lot of what author’s write stems from their own life experiences, so this can definitely help you get the ball rolling.

4. Try the alphabet character list exercise. Think of a character (could be one you already made up or start from scratch). For each letter of the alphabet, write ONE word that describes them. You don’t even have to go in any particular order (and feel free to skip X, ha). This may not necessarily lead to lots of writing, but it can help you start to build a character and it’s also fun to try and come up with different adjectives. 

5. Find journal prompts online. This is kind of similar to number three because you’ll most likely be writing about your own life. Journal prompts can be useful because it gets you thinking and you don’t even have to be creative about what you’re writing (since the topic has already been decided for you). You may even find that you start writing about something that suddenly inspires you and thus leads to more ideas and writing!

6. Write a letter to someone. You don’t have to send it. The person doesn’t even have to be real. It can even be a letter to yourself! If you look at it as just writing a letter, it may help you get the words out of your head. There’s less pressure this way.

7. Write an alternate ending for a book/movie you didn’t like. The characters and plot are already there, all you have to do is think of how you would have liked it to end. This exercise can help get your creative juices flowing but also provides you with a foundation for your writing. Writing based on someone else’s writing can help when you seem to be stuck on ideas.

8. Just write. Really. I know you may be saying “but I can’t!” Unless your hand is broken, you absolutely can. What you write doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t even have to make sense. You can just write whatever pops into your head. A lot of the time writer’s block is caused because of fear. You’re scared your work will be crappy or that you haven’t got a single good idea in your head. But look at it this way—if you just keep writing, there’s a good chance that something will turn out brilliant. If you don’t do any writing, chances of writing the next big thing are zero. So go write!

Do you have any writing techniques that have helped you combat writer’s block in the past?

What’s your favorite writing exercise?
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