When I’m stuck, I tend to think that I’ve tried everything, but nothing has worked. That is always a wrong assumption. There’s always an angle I haven’t yet considered. There is always other (or new) information that I haven’t factored into the equation. A writer’s block is often a mental rut.
What to do then? If the writing task you’re working on right now is going badly or at a standstill, just stop.
Writer’s Block Revisited
Get up and walk away. Do some jumping jacks. Take some deep breaths and stretch. Move to another place in the house to write. Do what is necessary to wake up your brain. And then…think about your writing project again.
BUT instead of starting where you left off, pick up the work in a completely different spot. If you’re stuck in the middle, skip to the end (or vice versa). If you’re bogged down in the middle, go back to your original notes and character sketches and the opening to get re-inspired. Do some background research for your characters. Interview your characters and ask them what they think the problem is! (This actually worked for me to get unstuck.)
Your brain may feel frazzled and dried up, but in reality, you’re using many fewer brain cells at any given time than you have available to you. So dig a bit deeper and engage a few more brain cells. Look at your writing problem from another angle. Come at it from another direction.
Our brains are fascinating things. They will often serve up to us exactly what we expect. If we expect to stay blocked, we will–and quit for the day. If we understand that we just need to look at the problem another way–upside down, reversed order–there’s an answer.
When writer’s block attacks you, don’t grit your teeth and keep pushing ahead like a bull dozer. Stop. Back up. Walk around the problem a few times. Find another port of entry: move to another place on your time line, describe a different character, add more depth to descriptions of places or characters, or brainstorm on paper about the worst thing that could happen in a scene.
Use more brain cells. Think again.
If you need more ideas for dealing with writer’s block, try these places:
And never fear that you’re alone with this writerly disease. There is even a Writer’s Block Festival, which was held this past weekend!