It’s National November Writing Month – the month when writers around the world join in a quick-fire effort to complete a story of 50,000 words in just 30 days. I’m marking it this month by re-posting some of the material I’ve published in past years to help writers get to that goal.
Writers’ block is a perennial problem – the inevitable moment when a blank page refuses to fill. And if you’re working to a tight deadline – as professionals do, and as happens in November’s National Novel Writing Month, you’ll know the frustration. I thought I’d re-post some tips from my archives to help you through.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
If you want some more writing tips and hints, and a method for pushing your book through, check out my short quick-start manual How to get writing… fast. Available on Kindle.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015 and 2018