We’ve all experienced writer’s block. You have an idea for a novel but you just don’t get comfortable writing that first sentence. Or, you may be in the middle of a novel and it just doesn’t seem right. You don’t know what path to take. You write a few sentences and toss your paper in the trash (or hit delete on your computer). I’ve contacted a number of writer friends and asked what they do when they encounter writer’s block. Their answers were as diverse as their writing:
Change it Up
Change your writing habits and/or your writing environment. If you normally write during the afternoon or evening try writing earlier in the day. Go to a different room to write. You’ve written in your office for years. Try the den or your bedroom, even your garage. If you listen to music when you write try writing with no music. Or, change the style of music you are listening to. Forget the jazz that has comforted you before and listen to some R&B or classic rock. If you normally handwrite your work, try writing using your computer. A change may jump start your writing.
Write something other than what you were working on or planning. If you’re a writer of fiction write a non-fiction article. If you belong to GoRead you have to pen articles anyway so a change of pace might be all that’s required. Or, there’s a character in the novel you are working on or planning who interests you. Write that characters back story even if you won’t use it in your novel. You’ll be writing and it might penetrate the cobwebs in your brain.
Look for Inspiration
You might be at a loss for ideas. If you’re a crime writer watch some true crime TV. They’re full of ideas. Or, binge on a few episodes of “Toddlers and Tiaras” for both ideas and to help create unusual characters. The parents on these shows are so obsessive and irritating it could inspire you.
Read one of your own favorite novels. A friend I spoke to said recalling what inspired him helped him begin his new novel.
Still at a loss for ideas? Check out tabloid newspapers like the New York Post or New York Daily News. I have been inspired by more than one headline/story after reading those papers.
Take a walk or a drive or bike ride to someplace you haven’t been. Colorado Springs, where I live now has some wonderful scenic areas. When I lived in Philadelphia I would take a walk to one of the many parks and just sit and observe the hordes of humanity that passed. Soon I was jotting down ideas or descriptions of some of the passer-bys.
Go to your local gym and use equipment you haven’t used before. You’re exercising different muscles and you might activate a part of your mind that is blocking you creatively.
Finally, this might be a bit extreme, but try something you’ve never done before. Parachuting out of an airplane might scare you to death or it might be the adrenaline rush you need to create. Sail boating, canoeing, or horseback riding, especially, if you’ve never done it before might be just what you need. Go to the beach, if you live near one. One writer went to a racetrack. Once he took his mind off of his writer’s block he returned rejuvenated. Take your kids to an amusement park and go on some rides with them.
All of these ideas have one thing in common: you are leaving your comfort zone, giving a jolt to your system which could get you out of your funk to begin that next writing project.
Barry Hoffman is known as a publisher for Gauntlet Press. However, his true passion is writing and he has penned five different novels. Hungry Eyes, Eyes of Prey, Judas Eyes, Born Bad and Blindsided.