Monday, May 9, 2011

Overcoming Writer's Block

Last week I talked a little bit about writing every day, and said I had some tricks for overcoming writer's block. I know everyone has their own method for writing, but here's a couple things I try if the words just won't come:

1. MUSIC. This is a big one for me. I almost always listen to music while I write, whether I'm blocked or not. This doesn't work for everyone, but for me, it's a biggie. Finding the right type of "mood" music for the part I'm writing can help intensify the emotions in that particular scene, and help the words flow easier. If I'm having a hard time writing, a lot of times I will listen to instrumental, usually from movie soundtracks, so that the words of the songs don't distract me.

2. Go back a few pages. I usually do this anyway as well, and I think by going back and reading over the last few pages I wrote, I not only write a cleaner first draft (because I'll catch mistakes as I go), it also helps me get back into my story and remember the details of where I was going. This way, when I hit that blank page, my mind is already flowing with the story, and I can keep writing.

3. Just start typing. Even if it totally sucks, I find that just by forcing myself to type something, ANYTHING, it makes the words start to flow. It might take a couple paragraphs before the words start coming faster, or it might take a couple of pages. Are there nights I give up if I've written two pages and it's taken me two hours? Yes. But at least I wrote something. And more often than not, when I force myself to write, I overcome the block and end up doing some of my best and fastest work.

When I push through, is everything I write amazing? No. Do I end up deleting a bunch of it? Sometimes. But more often than not, I'll go to bed thinking, "that was such a waste, everything I just wrote totally sucked." Then when I go back to it the next day, I'm often surprised to find that it's actually much better than I thought.

These are just a few ideas I use. What about you? What do you do to overcome writer's block? Because the honest truth is, once you have an editor and a deadline (which is what we all want, right?) you can't say, "Hey, sorry I'm only half-way done, but I've just been struggling with writer's block..." Yeah. Not so much. Make it a habit now to push on through, and you'll be very glad later!

12 comments:

Melody said...

Thanks, Sara! Good advice! :)

ali said...

I use these exact same things! Sometimes a hot shower or a walk outside to do some "book dreaming" is good for me too!

Shari said...

I will sometimes take a little break, read a book, and most often than not, free writing will free it all up for me so I can start again. Great thoughts!

Nicole Zoltack said...

Great advice! Sometimes I have to walk away and just let the story sit for a little before I know what to write next.

Sara McClung ♥ said...

Music helps me soooooooo much. I have different playlists for different "moods." Angry, sad, romance, sexy-time ;-) etc. That and I make a WIP playlist for specific scenes, so I'll listen to whatever song is inspiration for what I want to write and that helps a lot too. I do the rereading from a few pages back thing too!

Andrea Mack said...

Great ideas! Sometimes I just sit down and start writing about where the story is going and what needs to happen, and that gets me back on track.

Amber Argyle said...

I struggled hard core with writer's block about a month ago. I had to put the book away and start writing something else.

Meredith said...

Those are all methods I use too. Once I was at a writing conference and a YA author (I cannot remember who, shame on me) said when you're struggling with a character or part in the story in helps to write from a different character's point of view for a little while. I thought that was interesting. Thanks for the post!

-Meredith
Mint Tea and A Good Book

Trisha Leaver said...

Great tips, Sarah. Frequently when I hit a writing wall I go back a few chapters in my ms and tweak it, play with grammar and word choices. Keeps my mind in the game while giving my muse a break.

Jessica Lei said...

Music is definitely my biggest. BUT other than that, I actually have a few tumblr feeds on Google Reader with JUST beautiful pictures. I'll spend 5-10 minutes scrolling few, saving some of my favorites, and the creativity just rolls around until I'm ready to write :)

Maegan Langer said...

I make lists when I'm struggling with a specific problem. I force myself to write whatever comes to mind, even if it's silly. Sometimes the list gets pretty long before I get the right answer, but it never fails.

Normally I don't like to write by hand, but when I'm stuck there's something about writing out ideas on paper that helps me get the gears going again.

Carolyn V said...

Music helps me a ton. That and a good bag of chocolate. =)