Writers block is horrible.
The last time I had real freedom was spring break. And that was the third week of March. The day I got back from break, my Gods and Heroes in Art class assigned a 10 page paper analyzing one scene from a mythological story, my business writing class assigned a formal report that would end up taking a month to complete, my public speaking class assigned three speeches (two of which would be crammed within the last week of the semester), and my accounting class started back with a test on the first day.
Of course, you probably don’t want to hear about that, but the second I came back from a week of relaxation, I began drowning. I forfeited all of my free time and put the books and writing aside, and began to finish the last half of the semester. As the end of the semester came clearer into view, I began to tell myself it was only a few weeks until I could read and write again.
Today, I have only one more final left to complete on Friday and I am allowing myself some free time to pick up a pen or a book. Only…my brain has a cement wall inside. A thick ten foot tall wall. A wall that I can’t chip away at no longer how much I stare at this Word document. Every time I try to type a word in my story or look at a bookshelf with the intent of grabbing a book, the wall adds another few inches of reinforcement.
If I am being honest, sitting here and typing out this monologue that hasn’t gone very far has helped. My brain hasn’t thought about any of my characters for weeks, it hasn’t even thought about where the plot was going next for so long that the last time it did, there were more government funded programs. I need to get back into the zone because this summer I want to try and get a book I’ve had completed for a long time ready to maybe send off to a publisher.
This is a new idea I’ve been mulling over in my head, but it’s also something I’ve always wanted to try. The story has been finished for years now, but it is a rough draft and needs a lot of love if I want to send it off to someone, even if that someone is a close friend I trust to read the second draft…maybe.
Of course, I didn’t write this post to just complain about how tough college is (very) and tell you about my dreams (being published, what a novel idea). I also would like to give some tips of what has helped me get over writer’s block in the past.
- Read. Read, read, read, read. Reading helps you get an idea of what other writers have done successfully, and what has been done unsuccessfully. This piece of advice definitely isn’t new. Plethoras of people have given this advice before, but it really works. Most give it to writers to improve or help the writing process, but I use it to help me get over writers block. When I read, it helps refresh me on what good plot lines look like and reminds me of what I like, as a reader, in a story line. It gives me ideas without actually stealing what others are writing. If you haven’t heard Stephen King’s advice for aspiring writers it is:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” (This has more excellent tips from Mr. King himself!)
- Write. This might seem a little backwards since the point of writers block is the fact that you can’t write. This type of writing is different to help the writers block get, well, unblocked. Write anything and everything. Pick up a diary and log your day. Go to a public place that frequents people and write about what you see. Write a story on what is occurring around you. Don’t write about what you need/want to write, just put a pen to paper. This helps me take the pressure off of writing. Writing about your day, or events currently happening, or just random words on the page gets your head reacquainted with the fun of writing. Usually when I have writers block it’s because I have put pressure on myself to get something out there, to finish something, to do it for some reason other than wanting to. Also posting on Wattpad can sometimes give me stage fright and adds some more pressure onto get something written. Writing random things or getting the stress out in a journal relieves some of that internal pressure.
- Go for a walk. Leave the computer behind and go walk around. Sometimes staring at the paper, physical or digital, for too long can dry your mind up. Walking around gets your mind musing, at least for me. When I walk around, I observe the nature and let my mind wander uninhibited. Taking a walk also helps me get my exercise in and my energy up. Both of which helps me get going again.
- Listen to music. I have always pulled inspiration from music when I write. A book I posted on Wattpad was solely inspired by a tumblr post and “Let Her Go” by Passenger. To this day, when I hear that song it helps me through my editing process. When I’m blocked, I’ll turn to my writing playlist (a playlist of songs that inspire me or that I find would be great background music for a scene) and hit shuffle. Not every song always inspires me, but sometimes if I listen long enough then one song will play and the inspiration will hit me just right and I’ll get in the mood to write something.
These are four things that help me. Of course, there is no one magical solution to writers block and these tips might not work for you. But it doesn’t hurt to try if you find yourself stuck. Of course if you really hate these tips or they don’t work, a quick google search will give you tons more tips.
I do have to say that this post helped. My thick concrete wall feels about eight feet tall and I think picking up another book can help me knock it down more.
Then from one rookie writer (who really has no business offering real advice so take it as it is: fun) to other aspiring writers, take the pressure off. There’s no real time crunch and do it because you love it. Write every chance you get and read the rest.
Now here’s a song from my writing playlist: “Cigarette Daydreams” by Cage the Elephant (seriously, try this song. Especially late at night. I find it has the most powerful impact when no one else is awake and the world is quiet)