Writer’s block: Keep the creative juices flowing
The dreaded writer’s block. Most writers experience it at least once, and when it hits it’s deadly.
Right now, I’m dealing with a case of editor’s block. To make my deadline, I promised to edit at least ten pages of my MS each day. That’s a reasonable goal. Problem is, I insist on reviewing each day’s changes the next morning. If I’m unhappy with that word-smithing, I make more edits, which slows down the process. (Edits. Re-edits. Re-re-edits. You get the picture.) I hate feeling unproductive!
What do you do when you feel stuck?
Most best-selling authors — from Nora Roberts to Stephen King to Louis L’Amour — say you need to get your butt in the chair no matter what. Trust the process, do the work, and get the words onto the page. They’re right. You can’t force creativity, but you can’t wait around for creativity to strike, either. You have to exercise your writing/editing brain like a muscle.
I’ve also found the following to be true:
- Music is helpful, as long as the music is instrumental. Popular music with lyrics distracts me. But classical, jazz, and New Age music all help me get, and stay, in the zone. If I’m writing in a coffee shop, I usually stream Pandora to my laptop.
- Keep the TV off. I’ve got friends who blast the television while writing; they say it serves as background noise. That doesn’t work for me, as I find most shows distracting. Cable news is particularly deadly.
- Physical movement can break a block. When the words aren’t flowing, I try walking to instrumental music while I write/edit in my head. Not sure why this breaks the block, but it does. (Perhaps it’s for the same reason we always get the best ideas in the shower?)
- Reading a favorite book can inspire, as long as I resist the temptation to get sucked into the entire book. Twenty or thirty minutes are usually enough to do the trick.
- Remember to keep moving forward. This one is hard for me, because it means resisting the impulse to rework the same pages on consecutive days. Reminder: There will be plenty of time for another draft later on, if necessary. Just keep moving. 🙂
What do you do to overcome writer’s block? If you have a moment, let me know by leaving a comment below!