Never trust a writer who says she’s never experienced writer’s block. She’s lying. All writers, no matter what they’re writing, hit a wall at some point when the ideas stop coming and there just aren’t any more words that want to get onto the page. Sometimes, writer’s block happens before you’ve even started. I talked about some ways to get past that initial stalling and build up some momentum.
For many of us, writer’s block sneaks up when we least expect it. I’ll be typing away at a pretty good clip, when all of a sudden, BAM! No more words. No more ideas. Nothing but a blinking cursor, taunting me. I swear, there have been times when I’ve stared at the same spot on my computer screen and lost track of time, just trying to will the words into existence. As you might expect, this isn’t the most effective way of overcoming a block.
There are resources all over the place with suggestions on how to overcome writer’s block. What’s important to remember is that no one method works for everyone. Some people need to get up, walk around, change scenery, and forget about the piece for a while. Others need to dig deeper into their source material, looking for that one word or phrase that will kick-start their creativity.
I have a few different things I do when I find myself with a sudden, infuriating case of writer’s block. If I’m writing fiction or a creative piece, I open a blank Word document, and type the word “the” over and over and over until the next word comes. Sometimes I’ll only have a line or two of “the the the the the,” but, on more than one occasion, I’ve managed to make it through an entire page before any other word is channeled through my fingers onto the page. Sometimes that next word doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m writing about. Sometimes it veers in a sharply different direction from where my piece had been heading. Sometimes it’s a logical continuation of where I left off. Where that “the” leads isn’t really that important; it’s the fact that it gets me going again that matters.
Another thing that sometimes helps me is to pick up the nearest book and start reading. It gets me out of my own piece and away from the wall that my brain is facing, but still keeps me fully immersed in the world of words. Sometimes, one word or phrase or sentence will trigger something, and I’ll be back to my own piece with an idea ready to be expressed.
And, to be totally honest, sometimes I just stare at that blinking cursor. I let it hypnotize me a bit, while I sort and sift through words in my mind, discarding some as soon as I think of them, setting others aside for use later on, and, with any luck, catching the right word just as it floats into my consciousness in time to commit it to the page.
How about you, fellow writers? Do you have any tried-and-true methods for overcoming writer’s block? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever tried to get your words unstuck?