When I wrote my novella series, the words flowed. I could often sit and write 5,000 -10,000 words a day. For the most part, the muse seemed to be with me. I wrote 77,000 words in two months. Now, I’m working on a novel and have managed only 16,000 words in nearly a month. My friend Lauren, also a writer, tells me that I am now having a “normal” writing experience. Well, I don’t like it much.
I experienced one bout of writer’s block while working on my second novella. That experience lasted for three days and was absolutely tortuous. I don’t really remember how I came out of it, simply that one day I woke up and was able to pour out the words again. Now, I have a goal to write just 500 words a day, and those 500 words are proving to be incredibly painful. I just can’t seem to think of what to say. I know what the scenes are (I have my outline), but I feel like I am having to pull the words out of myself. But I am forcing onward, determined not to give up on this work. As the process goes on, I have determined a few measures to get out those measly 500 words (Hey, it worked for Graham Greene!):
- Walk: Nature is immensely inspiring. The feel of a cool breeze or the heat of the sun radiating against the skin. The beauty of a sunset or sunrise. The scent of rain-slicked leaves. The taste of salty air. The sound of joyous chirping. Our world does amazing things and never ceases to fill me with a sense of wonder.
- Listen to music: A beautifully written, performed, and produced song can stir the soul to such depths that we are compelled to create as well, to create words that grasp hold of the emotions that we feel.
- Change environment: Sometimes we feel as physically stuck as we are mentally stuck. A change of scenery can be exactly what we need to loosen our bodies and our minds from the static state in which we find ourselves.
- Read: Just as we must inhale to stay alive physically, we must inhale metaphorically to keep our creativity alive. This can be accomplished by taking in other work, by reminding ourselves why we write and what and who inspired us to write.
- Do something creative: Dance. Paint. Draw. Sew. Knit. Do whatever other creative activities you enjoy. We may find inspiration when we open our minds to other creative endeavors.
- Meditate: Lie still and open your mind. Simply giving ourselves the chance to empty our minds of the frenzied thoughts competing for attention can give new ideas (or old ones that are hiding) the space to come forth.
- Write anyway: Power through and write a certain number of words. Don’t stop until you have met your goal. Some days, you’ll get to that goal and not be able to continue. Other days, you may find yourself continuing to write. Either way, what you write may be drivel, but you have committed to getting something, anything, on paper. Writing nothing will certainly get us nowhere, but writing something may just get us somewhere we need to go.
I hope these tips help you fight your writer’s block. If you have any other tips that work for you, please share!