The past few weeks have been slow in terms of writing for me. I usually write anywhere from 2-5K words/day. For weeks now it’s been more like 200 words/day. Finally, I’m back to my old writing self. (Woohoo!) I can tell you first hand that nothing can be more frustrating than a good ole case of writer’s block. So, I thought I’d talk about my top five ways of breaking them.
1. Exercise. Any kind. Be it a walk in the park, a few miles on the elliptical, or 1.5 hours of power yoga. Getting the blood flowing is my favorite way of breaking through a tough case of the block. Usually the sweatier the better. About the time those lovely endorphins kick in, the block disappears. Many-a-times I’ve found myself nearly at four miles when the muse starts screaming at me. I’ve hopped off my elliptical all gross and sweaty without cooling down and start typing furiously. That’s a good feeling. Bonus: This method kills some major cals. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. 😉
2. Journaling. But the key is to do it for at least 20 minutes or until you’ve filled three notebook pages. And I’m not talking those tiny notebook pages, but full letter-sized paper. No cheating on this. Just flow. It can be about anything. It could be about everything you have to do today. Or how annoyed you are at a coworker. Or how you can’t believe what happened on last week’s episode of Downton Abbey. It can even be your grocery list. But whatever you’re writing, don’t stop. It’s like you’re cleansing everything from your brain to make room for the creative energy to come in. Okay, I know that sounds a little hippy-dippy, but it works. Trust me.
3. Taking a break from writing. Okay, so I know that this sounds counterproductive, but it’s true. When you get too inside your head that all you can think about is how bad this writer’s block is, you might need to step away from the computer for a bit. A fresh perspective can really help, and the only way to get that is with a little bit of distance. I’m not saying quit writing. Just take a few days off. Go to the movies. See your family. Goof off. Go to a museum. Lay on the beach. But give yourself permission to take your writing hat off for a bit. Don’t think about your story. Everyone gets a little burnt out every once in a while. So, take a break. It’s better to take one and come back feeling refreshed than sitting at your keyboard berating yourself for not having a higher word count. The story will still be there in a few days, and with any luck, the muse will be waiting for you.
4. Tell the inner editor to eff off. I don’t know about y’all, but my inner editor is a mean bitch. Sometimes she needs to be told to shove it. Mine tends to get a little loud from time to time. (Yes, I’m aware this is coming off as mildly psycho. Just go with me for a sec.) I’m a shy girl. Not on paper. I’m fine to email. I’m fine in small groups. But put me in a room, and I’m shy. That same voice, those same fears, that makes me shy can sometimes turn into a really loud editor when I write. So, I tell that little part of myself where she can shove it, and move on with my writing. Life’s too short to self-edit.
5. Write something new. I’m not saying to abandon the project that you’re working on, but take a break. This is a different kind of a break from #3. Sometimes writing something fresh can be enough to move past where you are on your current WIP. There are so many writing prompts and exercises out there. (This site has a new one every week.) Just take even fifteen minutes to write something completely different. Sometimes it’s juuust enough to bring the muse back. Hey, if she’s already working for you on this little exercise, might as well put her to work on your other projects. Right?
What’s your favorite way to beat the block?