The three types of writers’ block and how to beat them

 I’ve always figured there are at least three types of ‘writers block’. Tackling each demands a slightly different strategy. Here’s what they are and how to beat them.

  1. Wright_BooksStuck for ideas

You sit down with a literal blank screen or piece of paper to plan an outline and – nothing. No fresh ideas. No creation of concept. Answer? A change of framework – go out for a walk (not too long, maybe 10-15 minutes), go and do something around the house for the same period. Change your medium – switch from computer to pen and paper. Doodle on it.

  1. Stuck for words.

You know what you want to say, but can’t figure out how to say it. The words won’t flow, though the idea is clear in your head. Answer? Really, this breaks into two sorts of sticking: (a) Can’t get the right word, and (b) can’t compose phrases to express the idea. For (a) – what I suggest is putting a series of X’s where the word is meant to be, and carry on writing. After a while, go back and write in the word you want. Trust me, it’ll be there for you. It’s a faster answer than poring over a thesaurus. For (b), try writing the middle sentence of a paragraph, or another paragraph – jump ahead. Then go back, later and write the beginning. It’ll be there for you.

  1. Stuck for revisions

You need to revise what you’ve written – you know it’s not right. But you don’t know yet how to fix it. Answer? What you’ve written defines your thought patterns – trapping you in the blocked mind-set. The answer is a tailored mix of (1) and (2). Take a brief break. Then come back and start with a blank sheet of paper or new screen document. Re-write. Now take that and look back at the original. Printing out can also help – including altering the font or the margins. It’s amazing what springs out from a change of format.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015


9 thoughts on “The three types of writers’ block and how to beat them

    1. Well, that’s a step up from my NaNo novel, which consists of a complete blank. Of course, joining it might be a first step for me… (every year I envisage doing it, and every year something else happens – this year it’s getting two other projects off the ground and helping promote my sci-fi novella, being published tomorrow…)

  1. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    I’ve never thought about different types of writer’s block, I always thought it was simply blocked. I’m going to my first reader’s group in a few minutes, but I will start writing when I get back. I have an article to do for our local magazine. Tomorrow, I’ll work on my novel.

  2. For me, long walks are great for coming up with brand new story ideas. When I’m really stuck on a plot point, I tend to get my brainwaves whilst doing some mundane activity, like washing the dishes or folding laundry. Basically, at the point where my brain is just starting to turn off, it turns on, and that’s when the magic happens 😀

    1. Certainly does. Me too – I had an experience of that today, relative to a chapter I’m writing to support a book proposal I’m putting together for a publisher. Wrestled with it, gave up, did something else – and voila! 🙂

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