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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?)
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

 

6 Comments

  1. Anya Sharpe

    July 19, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Sometimes, I simply “force” myself to write. Jus tsit and make the fingers move. A writing sprint is great for that. I set a reasonable goal of 1000 words within an hour kickstarts. If I can make the 1000-word goal, I’m usually good to keep going. Sometimes I need to just NOT write for a day or two, then make myself go to my desk and write. I agree that having my own dedicated writing space helps with my discipline.

    1. adrianaallegri

      July 19, 2017 at 10:38 am

      You are so unbelievably prolific! I need to follow in your footsteps on this. Let go, let go, let go, and write! 🙂

  2. Jacky McBride

    July 19, 2017 at 10:49 am

    I waste way too much time on Netflix and CNN. I have learned to make myself a cup of coffee, put together a small bowl of snacks, walk into my writing room and close the door. Once I sit down at the computer, it kicks in. It also helps to be active in a great critique group so I want to have something to contribute each week.

    1. adrianaallegri

      July 19, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Yes, being part of a wonderful critique group is definitely a blessing! 🙂

  3. Lisa LeCarre

    July 20, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    It’s a great motivation to be a part of a good critique group. It forces me to produce. I do like music but find myself needing just the “right” kind of music for the scene and then waste a bunch of time looking for the right music. Yeah, it’s really called procrastination, but I use “right kind of music” as a euphemism. Great article!

    1. adrianaallegri

      July 21, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Yes, I’ve done that too! 😉

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