Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Writer’s Block: Fight the Beast!

Yup, that's my kitty playing his cat app on the iPad.

Writer’s block. Like me, I'm sure these two words make you cringe. And when it hits, it’s downright depressing. But that’s okay, because here is a list of ammo to fight the beast when it strikes. 

1.       Reward yourself. See your writing time as a reward. After a long day of work (or a long week of work) you need some you time. Writing is the escape you need from the craziness in your life. Personally, writing makes me feel fulfilled, and I love the thrill—the intense high—I get after an amazing writing session.

2.       No pressure. Start on something fun. Wake up the creative noodles. Before I pull up my latest work, I open a blank document and just start writing something—anything. It could be: last night’s dream, my rant on the day’s insanity, my latest craving, and on and on. No commitment. Nothing but a long stream of practicing writing my thoughts in an endless manner. See where it takes me until I get my buzz, the buzz that tells me I’m ready. Then I close the document, open up my work and get to it! I use this exercise for my morning writing sessions because it quickly snaps me out of my morning mental fog.

3.       Get some sun. Sit outside and soak some rays. The sun has some amazing effects, both mentally and physically. Just a few minutes outside, letting your skin warm beneath the rays, and listening to the world beyond your door can boost your energy. No sun where you live? Invest in a sun-lamp. I get the winter blues and a lot of it has to do with the shorter days and the lack of sun. Having a sun-lamp (also known as a happy-lamp—no really!) has significantly changed my mood during the cold, rainy season and thus my motivation to write.

4.       Let your mind wander. With your fingers hovering over the keys, or while you’re getting up to make coffee, or pacing around the room because you can’t stand the blank pages staring back at you, let you mind go on auto-pilot. Think of your story and just “see where it goes” (can also be used with the no pressure tip). You’ll be surprised with what you come up with. 

             I was driving to work one day, after hitting a major slump in my writing when I had a sudden idea pop into my head: what would it be like to live in a world of dolls? I got to thinking about this, and wondering how it would work, why, where, when, and who? Next thing you know, I’ve got my next big novel, WHITE AS SNOW. Spending every free second I had, I jotted notes on Evernote and by the time I got home, I was dying to get to my desk and start chapter one.

5.       Commit to blocks of time. Whether you actually make any progress or not using this tip, be proud you committed to the time you allocated. Whether it’s forty-five minutes every weeknight or four hours on Saturday and only two on Sunday, keep your butt in your seat and your face in front of your work until the time is up. Don’t let the page/word count take away what you accomplish. Be proud regardless if you finish one page in four hours, or seven pages in two—you committed and therefore you succeeded.

6.       Read out loud. Feeling sluggish or foggy headed? Grab a book and start reading out loud. Try and read as fast as you can until your tongue begins to twist and trip. Count how many words you can read out loud in one minute, or just race yourself to the next chapter. This challenging brain game is a great way to wake up and get those creative juices firing. The action of your eyes and your brain reading, plus the action of your mouth speaking the words are a great way to improve your memory and attention. It’s a fun activity that will get you in a good, fun mood, and ready to rock and roll!

A big thanks to fellow writer, Anthony Farina, who inspired this blog.
And I hope these tips help you all fight against the beast that is Writer's Block!

What are your best tips & tricks to fend off WB? Please share!

Happy writing. 


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  1. Now that is one smart kitty.

    One other thing I like to do to get me out of a block is to critique someone else's work in progress. I don't know why it works, but it almost always inspires me to get back into mine.

    1. That is a great tip! Thanks for sharing, Maria. I also like to pick up some of my self-help writing books which has as similar inspiring/motivating effect.

      Thanks again!


  2. Anna, I love the tip about reading aloud. I don't know why it works, but I'm convinced that the technique makes brain synapses fire off randomly like a junior high school band. I use it for my students, as a way to gauge their writing (now you know the source of my awkward simile). BTW, thanks for all your tips. Huge help!


    1. Hi Joe,
      You're welcome! I don't know the science behind this particular tip but I have a video game I play often--a "Brain Trainer". This is one of the teasers, and you can guess, it's my favorite.

      Thanks for the comment! I learned a little bit more about you too, which is always a plus. :)



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