Writer’s block - anyone who regularly puts pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, as it were) has faced it. While there is no one solution for busting writer's block, being able to identify what is stopping you can make a world of difference.
Here are tactics for overcoming 5 of the most common sources of writer's block:
Inspiration: If you struggle for fresh ideas, the best thing you can do is allow yourself to experience art. Read books, as many as you can, by different authors in different genres and styles. This passive learning will arm you with techniques, possibilities and ideas for your own work. Watch films to help you visualize how things can be adapted. Take in museums, art books, live performances, nature, time with your community. We absorb concepts and ideas from every memory we make. So make as many as you can, let them percolate together, jot ideas down in a notebook and refer to it when you need a kick-start.
Distraction: There is a lot going on in our daily lives, from day jobs to kids, chores to social media. It can be a challenge to segregate yourself to just write. Set attainable goals for yourself with rewards if you meet or exceed them. Schedule yourself time each day (or week or month) where you will dedicate yourself to writing. Identify environmental distractions like the TV, the internet, your family or your obligations, and create a space where they cannot enter. This can be setting up a study to work in, going to a local cafe with your laptop, creating a Do Not Disturb sign. Ensure that you have the space in which to concentrate, and tweak it as necessary (with lighting, music, comfort, hydration) until it works for you.
Challenge: They say write what you know, so when you hit a scene that you don't have personal knowledge or experience for, it can be a challenge to stay in the flow. Don't guess, because the conviction of the writing will suffer, your heroes may act out of character, and informed readers will lose investment in the novel. Take a break from writing, do some research, whether through books, interviews or articles. Once you find your answers, you'll be able to return to the scene with confidence. Whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction, research is imperative.
Emotions: Sometimes scenes may hit too close to home, especially if you're writing a memoir, a biography, a historical fiction... We draw inspiration from our own lives and experiences. Some writers become so connected to their characters that their empathy can be debilitating. A graphic, abusive, frightening, or romantic moment on the page can dredge up a great deal of unbidden feeling. Allow yourself to feel these responses. Take a break, let it all sink in. Use this connection to fuel your writing with authenticity. Be gentle with yourself. And remember, if someone asks you if it “really happened” you never need to answer anything that makes you uncomfortable. As much as the page reveals, it also can give you somewhere to hide.
Self-Doubt: A lot of writers fear their book won't be appealing to a wider audience. They doubt they have the skill to tell their story. They second-guess literary decisions they have made. They worry their tale has already been told. Take a breath. Understand that writing is an ever-evolving art. Know that for any issues of content, you can get professional assistance to polish your manuscript. Share your story with friends or communities with similar interests. Every book has a reader out there; accept that not all readers will respond to each writer's style. Take the time you need, go slow if you have to, comfort yourself often, then come back to writing. If you never get it done, you'll never know. You have a story that only you can tell, give it all the attention and focus you can, and give it a chance.
Written by Astra Crompton, FriesenPress Author Account Manager
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