Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tips for managing writer’s block

You’ve just got to the middle of your novel, you’ve been working on it relentlessly, you’re excited and proud of what you have so far; and suddenly, nothing.

Unblocking tool
The truth is, there is no easy way to manage writer’s block. It’s a nasty experience for a writer, and techniques that work for some to move past it might not work for others. To start with, here are three ways to make yourself feel better about the entire experience: 
  1. Don’t be hard on yourself. This is the worst thing you can do. You’ll just feel bad and you might even lose your motivation to write altogether. Thoughts like ‘well, it wasn’t that good anyway, I might as well just give up’ are not allowed. Remember how excited you were about it, and how well it was going. Once you move past the block those feelings will come back.
  2. The phrase ‘you can’t rush art’ might sound like a pretentious cliché that only people in black turtle-necks and berets would use, but it’s true. Unless you have an official deadline set in stone by a publishing company, don’t set deadlines for yourself. You’ll find yourself forcing ideas and they either won’t come at all, or the ones that do will not be up to standard. Let your ideas come naturally. By saying ‘I must have this chapter done by 5pm by tomorrow and not a minute later’ you put unnecessary pressure on yourself; you won’t feel creative anymore and you won’t produce the best standard of work. Be patient.
  3. Minimise the block in your mind. Feeling stuck might make you feel a bit rubbish but don’t let it appear to you as any bigger than it is. It is merely a minor hurdle in the creative process that you can and will move past.
Don't quit
Feeling better? Now here are five practical ways to combat the block and move on:
  1. Forget about what you’re writing. Step away from it and do something else. If you’re working on another project, go and do that for a while. This will give you a sense of achievement and, if you’re lucky, the break might get your ideas flowing again. Cleaning is a very good task for this. It doesn’t require any brainpower, leaving your head free for idle thoughts which may lead to new ideas. Which brings me to my next point…
  2. Clear your workspace. If your desk, sofa, snug etc is cluttered then how do you expect to write? If you have old cups of coffee lying around which appear to be growing penicillin get rid of them, fast. Organise yourself. Tidy away those books and pens. You’ll feel more relaxed within a clear working space.
  3. Go for a walk. Be mindful. Take in your surroundings. Concentrate on what you see; it might inspire you, or free up your mind for new ideas.
  4. Read a dictionary. Seriously.
  5. Talk to a friend who is a writer and spend an hour or so discussing your project with them. Bounce some ideas around. Even if nothing you can use comes out of it, you may find you see your writing in a whole new light. You’ll at least have things to reflect on and think about, which may get you moving again. And an outside input helps any creative process.
Blocks are something all writers experience, but even the nastiest of them can be overcome. Keep positive.
Stephanie-Louise Farrell is an up-and-coming author who is currently working on a new novel to go alongside her anthology of short stories entitled 'Haunted' (published by Any Subject Books). Aside from her writing she loves animals and lives in London.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great advice! I especially like the part about talking to a writer friend. That often helps me, especially when I attend a creative writing class and talk with other people about writing; it's interesting to hear about their approaches to writing, and it makes me want to get back to my own work.