“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don't just stick there scowling at the problem. But don't make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people's words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” —Hilary Mantel
You’ve been there. You’re cruising along, the words are tumbling out of your brain, and the coffee is feeling left out. What could you possibly need in this world when you’re on a writing roll? You are triumphant! You are king! All hail—
And then: writer’s block comes up behind you like a ninja and knocks you over the head with amnesia. Suddenly, you’ve forgotten how to write what it is you wanted to write. So how do you overcome it? Writers, allow me to help.
- Walk away. When you try to force out inspiration, I’m guessing it’s going to take some time before it says hello. Walk away from your computer or notebook and take a break. Get some coffee, check the mail—do something mundane.
- Watch other people. Perhaps the scene you’re struggling with is how your characters should interact. Go to a restaurant or coffee shop and people-watch. It allows you to see how people communicate in the real world, and who knows? You might have perfect material for your scene. Hello, inspiration!
- Listen to music. It drowns out the other distractions around you and helps you focus, believe it or not. If words bug you, however, try this: http://rainfor.me. I’ve been using it for NaNoWriMo, and I’m kind of in love.
- Talk to yourself—out loud. I did this in college and still do it today when I’m writing. When you’re feeling stuck, there are too many things jumbling around in your noggin. Talk about your problems out loud. Walk around the room. It gets the juices pumping, and when you hear the problem out loud, you’re more apt to be struck with a solution.
- Talk to someone else. If you don’t have a writing buddy, you should. They are there for you to bounce ideas back and forth. Tell your friend the problem with your scene. You are the writer; your friend is the reader. Don’t you want to know what the reader thinks?
- Stimulate your brain. Play some video games. Or a board game, even. This takes your mind off the problem while still stimulating your brain to wake up the missing inspiration.
- Read poetry. I don’t care what genre you’re writing; sometimes a little romanticism is all we need to refocus. Poems are quick, bewitching, and full of beautiful words. Read a few and get back to work.
What do you do when writer’s block strikes? Tell us in the comments so we can do them too!