We all get stuck. Here are 9 ideas that I’ve used to break through writer’s block.
Including the last one—it’s one I’ve personally used that made me feel like I was doing something wrong.
1. Read your favorite novel.
Try it out again and see what ideas come into your head. You’ll not only remember the story, but you’ll think about the craft and mechanics because you already know the story.
2. Read a book in the same style or genre that you’re trying to write.
Sometimes your favorite novel isn’t the same type as the one you’re trying to write. When this happens, dig up one that’s similar to yours. What did the character do? Where did the character go? Who entered into the character’s life? All those play a part in the story development.
3. Work on something else.
Give your mind a break. This is one of my 6 essentials that I talk to beginning writers about. Juggling multiple projects (not at once, just in different blocks of time) helps you work out problems subconsciously.
4. Take a walk.
This is important for any creative endeavor. And for you to get away from the screen. It helps connect ideas in your head.
5. Just type.
The smart answer from this post. But even the gibberish and “not good enough” stuff can help you get through. You can (and will…!) always revise it later.
6. Do a personal Q&A.
This sounds stupid, because you’re stuck right? But instead of trying to form perfectly crafted sentences on the first time through, ask questions about what you want the character to go and do. What’s the end goal? Or what can they do to get there? What would a person in your life with a similar mindset do?
7. Check the news.
I forgot the person who said this in an interview (Philip Roth? Gay Talese?), but they said a lot of crazy stuff happens in the news. And it does. Some of it’s serious, some of it not so much. Since I’m from Florida, my favorite crazy news source is Florida Man. Tons of inspiration there.
8. Find conversations and comments.
Go to a restaurant and hear what people talk about. Find comments on blogs about hot topics or on the topic you’re writing about. Even copy and paste it. Then rework it. You’ll find out what your target audience is interested in and the diction that people use in talking about it. You’ll find out a lot about tone and style from this.
Ok, now the controversial one…
9. Copy one of the books from 1 & 2.
This is the one that makes me feel bad. And it feels like cheating. But it’s not. Because this is just to get the juices flowing…
Go to your bookshelf right now. Get one of the books from either 1 or 2. And literally open the book and start typing it in your document. This one is not safe for beginners.
Because you don’t want to copy this and publish it as your own. That’s not what I’m saying. (Repeat after me: That’s not what you’re saying.)
But remember, this is a creative exercise. You are trying to break the block. You could even substitute your character’s names in and go off from there. Why does this help?
You’ll get a feel for the flow and style. You’ll notice stuff that you didn’t think were there in the book. You’ll be even more aware of how hard this is, but it will give you ideas for how you would’ve written this book. Which is the most important part. You’re trying to figure that out.
How am I going to write a book about characters I’m deeply interested in?
Before you ever, ever, ever send this piece off, make sure you heavily revised and edited it. Because it’s not yours in its current state. Do not pass it off as your own. (Repeat after me: I will not pass this off as my own).
But once you shape, mold it, understand the style and add your characters, plus your flourishes–it is yours.