If you’re a writer, you have, at one time or another, suffered from writer’s block. There is nothing quite as frustrating for a writer as sitting down to an empty computer screen – or blank piece of paper, if you are analog – and the words simply will not come.
No matter how much you tell yourself that it will pass, or remember the old adage that “only writer’s get writer’s block” in an attempt to cheer yourself up, grappling with writer’s block can range from a minor irritation to a horrifying malady that stretches on for days, months, even years.
There is no surefire way to overcome writer’s block, no hard and fast rules that will combat the hopeless feeling you get when in the grip of a dry spell that you fear will never end. Sometimes, no matter what you do and no matter how hard you try, you just have to endure the pain and console yourself with the knowledge that this too shall pass. However, there are things you can try to break out of your rut, rather than placidly waiting for the block to resolve itself.
• Brainstorm. This is perhaps the most basic – and popular – method writers try to get their creative juices flowing. Sit down with a notepad – or open up your word processing program – and write down whatever comes to mind, whether you think it is a viable idea or not. You are not trying to rate your ideas right now, just generate them. If nothing is coming to you, switch to doing something else not writing related, but keep your notepad close at hand, and write down any ideas that pop into your head. Later on you can go back and go over the list, throwing out those ideas that aren’t worth pursuing.
• Browse the Web. The internet is home to a wealth of writing ideas. Hit up your favorite search engine and type in a word or phrase and see where it takes you. For me, news websites are a good place to go for story ideas, as there are unique and interesting things happening in the world every day. Even your friends and family can inspire – check out their Facebook or Twitter accounts and see what they are talking about.
• Take a break. Sometimes you just need to get away from your writing desk when inspiration isn’t forthcoming. Take a walk, ride your bike, or go for a drive, anything to get away from the blank page. You may find ideas coming to you while doing so – if not, some time away, not waiting for inspiration to strike, can do a world of good.
• Just write. Get rid of that blank page any way you can. Start writing with no objective in mind. Stream of consciousness is always popular, even if you are only writing about how you are feeling about not being able to write. I like to find an object in my office, be it a piece of furniture, my cats, or my computer itself, and describe it. Even if you end up deleting what you wrote or throwing it away, you are exercising the writing muscles in your brain, as well as honing your descriptive skills for when you do tackle a project you are passionate about later on.
These are, of course, just a few ideas. Search the internet for “writer’s block” and you’ll find pages upon pages of sites with ideas for combating it. Above all, the important thing is to not let the fact that you are stuck keep you down. Don’t give up, and like centuries of writers before, eventually the creative juices will begin to flow, and your writing will be productive again.
The Writer’s Reliquary – a resource for writers.