Tips to Beat Writer’s Block

People always ask writers how they get over writer’s block so I’m here to offer some tips that work for me. Luckily, I don’t get writer’s block very often. But I do have days when things don’t feel right. It’s like my writing is off. Then other days I’ll be on fire, with the words flowing out like crazy. So when those “off” days hit, it’s frustrating. But rather than avoid the computer, I continue to write. It’s similar to any skill. You have to practice even if you don’t really feel like it.

If you, too, have those “off” days or feel like you can’t move forward with your writing, try these tips:

Write Freestyle. I call it “freestyle” because it means that you’re free to write whatever you want without judgment or outlines or concern over deadlines. I do this when I’m writing my novels as well as when I’m writing magazine articles. Basically, you write and you don’t look back. Don’t worry about typos or grammar. And don’t stop and reread what you wrote. Just write and see where it takes you. Even doing this for 10 minutes can help get you out of a writing slump and back to work.

Try Versioning. If you’re stuck on a certain scene or you’re not sure what to do with a character, try doing something totally different with that scene or character. Sometimes you get stuck because you have an idea in your head that something has to be a certain way. But it doesn’t. It’s fiction and you can do what you want. Maybe you’re convinced that your main character has to meet her love interest in a coffee shop. Forget that and try writing the scene somewhere else. Maybe she bumps into him at a concert or a friend’s party. Even if you don’t end up using the alternate scene, it spurs ideas that can get you back on track with your original scene.

Take a Break. If you’re just not feeling it, take a break. Sitting there staring at the computer screen won’t make the ideas come out. When I’m stuck, I go for a walk or run and listen to music. I don’t know if the exercise gets more blood flow to my brain or what, but I’ve had some of my best ideas when I’m out running. So see what works for you. Step away from the computer and get a change of scenery. Try doing something that allows you to think without too much distraction. And then just let your mind wander. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get the ideas flowing again.

Talk it Out. If you’re stuck on something, like a scene that’s not working, talk it out with someone. Describe the plot of your book to a friend or family member and see how they would handle that scene. I make my husband do this all the time, but we go to a coffee shop and he gets to eat pastries so he doesn’t mind too much. Plus, he loves science fiction so he actually liked brainstorming the Samantha series with me. Anyway, it’s interesting to hear an outside opinion. I’m not saying that I use all his ideas but just hearing his ideas brings up other ideas and gets my mind working again. So give it a try (and be sure to offer the person pastries!).

Hope that helps! Now back to writing . . .

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