Three more top tips for beating writers’ block

Some writers claim there’s no such thing as ‘writers block’. I think there is, though. It happens when you’re confronted with a blank page and the words don’t come.

Essential writing fuel!
Essential writing fuel!

Sometimes, if a deadline looms – or NaNoWriMo calls – you have to just slug ahead. Here are a few of the quick ways I use to unstick:

  1. Are you stuck on the first sentence? Start with the second, or third. Write from there and then back-fill. That’s what word processors are for.
  2. Still stuck? Check the time, leave your writing desk or whatever, and go do something else for five minutes and DON’T think of the writing problem. Just five. Not long enough to get out of the ‘zone’, but long enough to subconsciously switch gears. Do NOT do ‘something else’ on your computer, like social media or that half-finished Kerbal Space Program scenario. The trick here is to have a change of scene – and to control the time away.
  3. If that doesn’t work, go do something else for 20 minutes – for instance, go for a walk around the block, if you can do it safely. This time, think of the writing problem while you’re on the walk, but only for the first five minutes or so.  Then take in the moment – what you’re walking through, what the day’s like, or whatever. That think-then-don’t-think part is important, and so is the physical activity.

Do these work for you? Do you have any particular tips you follow when you’re stuck on a writing problem?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015


8 thoughts on “Three more top tips for beating writers’ block

  1. It happens I just started reading William Manchester’s A World Lit Only By Fire, and in the preface he explains he started writing, first, because that was more fun than not writing, and second, from about the center of the book and then going backwards and forwards and throwing out the manuscript altogether.

    It does sound like he got into a bit of a research death spiral in the writing, but then he did get the book finished, too.

    1. Starting in the middle and spinning the text back to the beginning is definitely a workable technique. It’s also, I suspect, likely to produce better srructural integrity.

  2. In regards to #1, one of the girls in my critique group has an amazing tactic for dealing with scenes she doesn’t want to write. She’ll get to the scene and then write in all caps, yellow highlighted, “INSERT SCENE WHERE KLIVE IS USELESS AND FAILS AT EVERYTHING LIKE THE IDIOT HE IS. AND MAKE SURE TO FORESHADOW THE DOOM CUSTARD SUB-PLOT”. I am, of course, paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

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