Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tools to Combat Writer's Block

Steacie Science and Engineering Library at Yor...Image via Wikipedia
Whether you've just started writing or have been writing for years, writer's block is an affliction that very few writers are immune to. It creeps up when you least expect it, and not even the best planning can prevent it. You might know exactly where you want your character to end up, but at some point between their start and achieving those goals, you may find yourself stumped.

There are several remedies available to sufferers of writer's block if you take the time to dig around, but here is a compilation of a few of the most common cures that are thought to be most helpful:

1. When in doubt, take the last portion you have written and try writing it from a new perspective. Sometimes changing the narrator, point of view, time, or setting can be just enough to create a spark that will get your writing back on track.

2. Make a change in your own scenery. Step away from the computer screen and pick up a notebook and pen or go to a local library or park to write.

3. Take a movie break. This is one of my personal favorites and whenever I just can't seem to figure out where my story should go next I pop in a DVD and get lost in someone else's story. Most of the time I try to pick a movie that is completely different from what I am working on, but no matter what movie, there is something inspiring and rejuvenating about watching a story through from start to finish.

4. Write something else. Finish an entry in your journal or write an email, just keep writing until you get back into the flow of things.

5. Take a walk or do some exercise. Set your work aside and take a stroll to clear your mind or think about your story without trying too hard. Sometimes the writer's instict is to overreact after hitting a wall and just like any other muscle, overworking the brain can cause a sprain or set you back even further (ok that might not be medically accurate, but trying to hard to move forward can induce a certain amount of panic that is definitely not productive.)

6. Story web. Take the central event from the last portion you've written and create a diagram, or web, based on all the paths your story could take.

7. Work out of order. Not all writing must be written in the order that it occurs. If you reach a barrier in the middle of a chapter set it aside for a while and move on to the next or the ending. As long as you're writing you're being productive.

8. Last but not least, you can always jump on the Pavlovian/ Skinner bandwagon and motivate yourself with a reward system.

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