We all have ‘those times’. You finally get an idea for a story and it grips you enough for you to put your fingers to the keyboard. You start typing! It’s awesome! It’s monumental! It’s…run out of steam.
Two weeks later you find yourself staring at the doc and you have no idea how to continue. Your initial burst of optimism’s slowly fading and you have that gnawing pit in your stomach that’s telling you ‘This is gonna be another failure. You’re no good. See, I told you you shouldn’t try to write’.
Well, here’s how to silence that stomach and progress your story!
1) Skip to the Interesting Bit
If you aren’t having fun writing it, the chances are, the reader isn’t having fun reading it either.
When you find that your brain’s thinking of anything but what you’re trying to write, it’s a bit of a hint that what you’re trying to write is either a) unnecessary or b) hella dull. Either way, the chances are you don’t need it. And if it turns out that you do, then feel free to insert it later. There’s no rule saying you can’t, and this way, you’ll reignite your interest while making progress too!
2) Just Start Writing
The number of times I’ve found myself staring at the screen, listening to the dial tone of nothingness sounding in my mind is beyond reason. I hate it. I detest it. I bloody well, dag nam, darn diddly doodle- Oh, wait, what if I…
Writing something and allowing your mind to spill onto the page helps to unlock the blockage of needing your story to be ‘right’ before you write. Think of it as poking a little hole in that damn of words in your mind. A trickle will emerge, then a shower, and before you know it, the flood is hitting, and you’re in full flow!
3) It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect
I repeat: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT. PERFECTION IS YOUR ENEMY. HIT IT WITH A STICK!
This is the first draft. There’s a reason it’s called that, and it’s because you’ll edit it later. I like to call mine my “Fucked Up Firsts” to remind myself that it’s allowed to be scuffed, bad, stupid and cringe. It’s the draft I use to get my ideas onto the page, and my basic story’s done. I’ll sometimes edit as I go if I feel like I need a little breather/refresher, but I keep in mind that it’s the first draft, and things will change. That fact alone has saved so many stories.
Seriously, it really has. Half the time just turning up works, and when it doesn’t I slap on the mood music and type-rant about how much I hate being stuck!
4) Small Progress is Still Progress
Even if it’s a few hundred words on your lunch break, write them down. You can do it. It doesn’t matter if it’s terrible or if it’s genius, as Terry Pratchett so eloquently put it:
I just let it run, because you can always rewrite, check things, find the right way to say things [later].– Terry Pratchett
Don’t be scared to go slow when you have to. It’s fine to write 20 words if that’s all you can do that day, and it’s fine to write 10,000 if it takes over your mind. There’s no correct formula but moving forward is the key to getting out of your rut.
5) When in Doubt, Walk it Out
Sometimes, our mind hyper-fixates on one idea, and we just can’t see past it. No matter what we do, we simply can’t solve the problem, whatever way we turn it in our head. Something my mother told me whenever I was stuck with my homework (yes, I was that kid) was to walk away from it.
That’s when I walk away. Literally. I put my shoes on, take a deep breath and brave the outside world. I don’t take any music with me, no audiobooks, nothing that could ‘distract’ my mind, and I just walk. Well, saunter mainly, but it’s the same thing.
As I make my way through the bendy back-streets of England, I allow myself to daydream. I rarely have set topics to think about; I just go, and observe where my curiosity takes me. 9/10 times, I’ll have my solution by the time I’m back home, and if I don’t, that’s fine. There’s always the washing up (seriously, I need a dishwasher).
When you move your body, your mind goes with it, and when you allow yourself to be bored, it’s amazing what’ll emerge from the fog.
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One thought on “5 Reasons Your Writing’s Blocked and How to Fix It”
Skipping to the interesting bit is my method these days. It’s also teaching me just how much of my story is just filler. Great tips here for the blocked writer. Thanks for sharing!
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