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Few things are scarier than a blank page.
We’ve all been there, and anyone who writes regularly for fun, education, or for business will get very cozy with writers block from time to time.
My Biggest Writer’s Block EVER
Between completing a creative writing degree, years of blogging, and drafting a novel, I know all about writer’s block. I’m well acquainted with that awful feeling of watching the cursor flash on an empty page, my hands poised motionless on the keyboard, and my head either so full of ideas that I can’t figure out what to write first, or as empty as the page in front of me.
In fact, I started my first novel in college as an undergrad. I was passionate about the story, in love with the characters, but after graduation, it just faded away. Somehow, I stopped writing.
Over the past five years, I’ve chipped at it in little bits, writing random scenes here and there, scribbling down notes every once in awhile, but I wasn’t actually getting anywhere.
I danced around that story for five years. FIVE. YEARS.
That’s quite a block.
But this spring, a friend from college, who read parts of that novel, liked it, and workshopped it with me published her own novel. That was the kick in the butt I needed to get moving again.
So I did.
And 42 chapters in (at the time of this writing), I’m still going strong.
So how did I break through that block?
So how do you actually get words onto the page, and GOOD ones?
3 Ways to Break Through Writer’s Block
If you’re really stuck, get up and move your body. Take a break. My favorite way to dislodge ideas and relax enough to write is to go for a walk. Walking is a great way to smooth out your energy and let your body get into a comfortable rhythm while your mind wanders. After a ten minute walk, your mind will be in a much better place for writing.
Get Your Ideas Out
If you know what you want to write before you start, the actual writing part will be a lot easier.
This is not the time to worry about form or eloquence. Start by either writing down all the ideas that you want to cover in the piece you’re writing (story, article, email, it works for anything). Either brainstorm your ideas in a list or freewrite them in paragraph format. Get it all. Then, go back and pick the ideas that are most important and flesh them out. Add some details and thoughts that you want to include.
Organize those ideas.
Some of those ideas will make more sense if they come before other ideas. In what order should you present those ideas? If you’re writing a narrative or a story, in which order do those events need to happen?
You can do this by writing the events or ideas down in order on another document or piece of paper, or you can add a number next to each idea or event to indicate where it should go, and THEN rewrite them in order.
Now you should have a fairly detailed outline of your writing project. This outline serves as a map, which tells you what to write in case you get stuck. If you discover gaps in your outline, or places where you want to add something else, go for it! Update your outline if necessary so you don’t get lost again. Sometimes it really helps so see a the flow of your ideas in that format as you write the actual piece.
I’ve used these tips for years, and they never fail to get a stalled piece moving again. This is how I keep working at my novel and how I write articles and blog posts, and these tips never fail me. Give them a try!
We’d love to hear from YOU…
What kinds of writing projects are you working on right now? What’s one thing you can do today to break through or prevent writer’s block? Leave your answer in the comments below!