Okay, guys, it’s a basic article today handing out some basic information but an important one as writer block can hit and hit hard. To break writer’s block, the fight can often be quite fun.
However, you need to keep in mind that writer’s block can stem from being a product of procrastination, to fear, to limited ideas. For that, make sure you’re a) not procrastinating or b) not fear that someone at the library is looking over your shoulder as you write your manuscript…they probably aren’t, and if it’s that ultra-cute girl who sits behind me at times, she can laugh at my work all she wants.
Okay, time to get serious.
What causes writer’s block?
I already listed the three symptoms above and again, if you’re putting off your writing for petty excuses, especially if you’re watching TV instead of writing, that’s (almost) always procrastination.
And again, if you think someone’s going to break into your Word doc and laugh at what you’ve written, I hate to break it to you, but it’s not your problem, it’s theirs. Remember, most people are either uninterested or oblivious to your writing, and that can be a good thing.
Let’s tackle the third and most feared symptom of writer’s block: Lack of ideas.
The good news is that the primary cause behind such a symptom is lack of motivation, which stems from a lack of ideas.
If I have zero ideas, am I going to benefit from staring at a blank Word doc?
No, and neither will you.
So why are we fighting a losing battle?
We’re going to lose the war.
Let’s win the war.
Yep, this is the one remedy where I’m going to contradict myself until I explain myself. Note I said earlier that watching television is bad and for the procrastinator. This symptom, though, the lack of ideas symptom, call for ideas, for inspiration.
Don’t just blindly flip through the channels. Watch TV shows that fit your genre, your message, and your values.
I’m sure if there’s a marathon of such a show on TV or if there’s something on whose plot motivated you to write in the first place (Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia for me) you’re onto something.
Nothing on TV?
Isn’t that the norm these days?
Why not log onto Netflix or Hulu, or even stream YouTube videos?
Just get a visual in front of you and take notes if you need to. Don’t take notes on the movie, but have your laptop and a blank Word doc in front of you and the second some ideas spring about, capture them in the moment.
This is something a writer should do each day, and I like to dedicate my final half-hour to an hour of my own waking hours to reading.
I have my books right beside me at all times. To my left right now, I have my debut book, Northern Knights, plus the entire Chronicles of Narnia Series. My Harry Potter collection is in my spare room, along with historical fiction which for some strange reason helps me garner new ideas.
The Wheel of Time is on my second end table, and a miscellaneous stack of books sit in my bedroom.
There are reminders all over my apartment that I must get some reading in.
Oh, and did I mention I have some e-books in the political genre downloaded into PDFs?
What I’m telling you to do is leave no excuse. You need to get your reading in and it will do wonders for staving off the third and sometimes deadliest symptom of writer’s block.
Get Lost….in Nature!
This works wonders, and if you love the fantasy genre as I do it helps even more. Something strange happens when we hike or simply walk nature trails. Our thoughts slow down and we can mull them over without even realizing it.
In fact, we can generate some interesting new thoughts from our thoughts as we slow them down.
Again, this happens without realizing it at the moment, but the creative lightbulb will spark. It’s good to keep your phone in your pocket (I know some of us prefer to go without electronics in this scenario) or at least have a notebook and pen handy because something is going to hit you!
I’m lucky to live near a huge rail trail that begins in Hancock County, West Virginia and leads across Washington County, Pennsylvania, all the way to Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I just said Pittsburgh so you weren’t completely lost when it came to wondering where in the State of West Virginia Hancock County was located.
I love that trail, but there are times I prefer to walk or run outdoors at a local track. Here, the view of the countryside from the tiny village of Wintersville, Ohio from the top of the bleachers at the local high school is one of the most breathtaking and magnificent fantastical views a soul can experience in this life. When the sun begins its descent on those summer evenings, a rush of positive forces pierce your body and for the moment not a single obstacle is present.
If you have a similar type of view in your neck of the woods, go for it, because again, thoughts slow down and something epic is about to take place in the mind. Again, have something on you to write such thoughts.
Gym and Music
And finally, my favorite place, especially now that it’s January and the New Year’s crowd is in full force.
Get in the gym and I don’t care if it’s Planet Fitness. Just get into a gym, throw on your earbuds, jam to some music, especially if there’s a certain type of music that flows your creative juices, and get after a workout.
There isn’t a single place in the world where my thoughts erupt than at the gym. It’s truly a huge motivational tool which evokes similar effects that a nature walk or workout does. For me and I’m sure many fantasy writers can back me on this, power and symphonic metal work wonders, but whatever your genre, listen to music that correlates with it.
A workout also releases positive endorphins and for those of us who get down on ourselves easily, the gym is the one place to change that outlook.
I do realize that some people are intimidated by gyms, but to be completely honest, unless you’re in an LA Fitness or Fitness 19 (I don’t care if they send me a legal notice for honest slander), you won’t run into too many macho egos. And I’ll let you in on a secret, most people who look and act this way are wannabes, so if they do laugh and stare, they’re not worth your time.
But you will be shocked at the sheer value a workout will do for you. It’s truly an amazing experience.
Implement Your Tactics
Now that you know how to combat the third symptom of writer’s block, it’s time to plan action and implement tactics.
First off, no more staring at the blank screens and getting nowhere.
Yes, I’m giving your permission to turn on your TV to gain inspiration or watch YouTube for that matter. Whatever you need to reignite the creative juices.
If you’re in a warm climate (or if you love snow) hit the trails…I’ve actually never seen the Panhandle Trail in Wonderland Status, so I might do that this year.
If you’re someone who finds the cold weather fit for reading, grab a book and read, read, read.
Finally, if you’re like me and a gym is the place to be in the morning—I’m going this very second.
Talk to you all tomorrow.