by Rita Haney
Writer’s Digest Methods
1.) Step away from whatever you’re writing and do anything that’s creative. Paint pictures, write poetry, design images in Photoshop, make a scrapbook or collage, or if you’re masculine, build something in the garage. Work on another creative project for a few hours or days and then go back to writing. When I’m stuck, I paint paintings or work on my website or blog. Jumping to other projects really activates my creativity. The key is to keep exercising the creative part of your brain and eventually you’ll tap back into the flow of writing.
2). Do free writing. Spend 15 minutes or more a day writing whatever comes off the top of your head. Ignore punctuation. Just write freely. Allow it to be totally random. You might change subjects many times. You might mix fiction with journaling or vent frustrations. The process trains your brain to tap into the words inside your head and gives them a place to live on your computer screen or journal. Do this for a week and then return to your writing project. An alternative is to free write 15-20 minutes to get your thoughts out and then immediately return to writing your book or article. Some of my free writing entries inspired new ideas for my books.
3.) Move your body. Dance, practice yoga or Tai Chi. This may sound funny, but when you get your body into flow, your mind follows. Meditate and take long, deep breaths. A relaxed mind is more open. An open mind is more imaginative. You can focus longer when you are in a peaceful state. Sometimes I step away from writing, do some yoga poses and breathing, then return to writing in a more creative state.
4.) Eliminate distractions. Turn off the phone and unplug from the internet. Clean up your work space. A cluttered desk puts the mind in a state of confusion. Carve out some time in your schedule just for writing — at least 3 to 4 hours. Ask loved ones to honor your space so you can write without interruptions, or write when everyone in the house is sleeping. Giving yourself time and space to be in solitude is important to staying focused.
5.) Write early in the morning. When you first wake up, your brain is still in Theta mode, the brainwave pattern that your mind is in when you dream. My best writing happens when I get up at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. I’m amazed at what my mind comes up with while I’m still half asleep.
6.) Write while you sleep. Your subconscious mind is always problem solving, even when you’re sleeping. Sometimes when I’m stuck on a chapter I’ll write for 15-30 minutes prior to bedtime. I’ll think about the problem chapter as I fall asleep. The next morning I usually wake up with a solution to the problem and get back into the flow of writing. I’ll see the scene from a fresh perspective or my characters will say or do things that take my story in an exciting new direction.
7.) If nothing else works, I resort to my number one, lethal weapon to cure writer’s block: the Glass-of-Water Technique. Before bed, fill up a glass of water. Hold it up and speak an intention into the water. (Example: My intent is to tap into my creative source and write brilliantly tomorrow. I choose to be in the flow of my best writing. I am resolving my story’s issues as I sleep and dream). Drink half the water and then set the half-full glass on your nightstand. Go to sleep. When you wake up the next morning, drink the rest of the water immediately. Then go straight to your computer and write at least an hour without distraction. This may seem a bit out there, but give it a try. It works! Do this technique for three nights straight. It gets me out of my writer’s block every time, often the next morning and definitely within 72 hours.
When you apply one or all of these methods, you’ll find that writer’s block is simply a minor speed bump that you can overcome easily and stay in the creative flow. Happy writing!
Rita Haney’s Top 3 Methods For Writer’s Block Prevention
1) Focus on your strengths. When writer’s block hits, more often than not it’s discouraging. Similar to the writing free hand technique mentioned in Writer’s Digest, focusing on your strengths when writing creates a more positive feeling towards yourself and your writing. To focus on your strength one of the simplest ways is reading a favorite piece that you wrote. Look at a piece that was written when inspiration was high and more often than not you will find your confidence and your ability to write returning. An alternative is to write about anything that has captured your attention or inspired you recently.
2) Questions. Often times when I get stuck if I’m asked a question about a specific part in the story my brain provides an answer that wasn’t there before. Before I realize it the story is back on track and my writer’s block is gone. Having someone read your work and ask about anything confusing is not only a great way to edit, but a way to progress the story.
3) Build a writing ritual. Humans are creatures of habit. Whenever you sit down to work on a story try to do something specific that signals “It’s time to write.” Do this up to ten times and you will find that the ritual will start to activate the more creative side of your brain. Writer’s block will happen far less if there is a ritual activating your creativity. It can be something simple like having a notebook and a special pen, or it can be more elaborate like building a small environment specifically for writing, like an office.