Writer’s block: the archnemesis of all writers. It comes at you out of nowhere, making you wonder why you even began writing in the first place.
While writer’s block may seem inevitable, there are a few steps you can take to avoid it.
AVOIDING WRITER'S BLOCK
Outline your novel before writing it. Having an outline to refer to during your first draft is the easiest way to prevent writer’s block, because you know exactly what you want to write. Learn more about outlining here.
HAVE A ROUTINE OR A DEADLINE
Plan to write a certain number of words every day or week, or decide you will finish a part or the entirety of your novel by a certain date. Both of these techniques serve the same purpose: ensure you keep writing. It is important you consider what will work best for you. A routine or a deadline for smaller sections (i.e. chapters) of your book can help you if you struggle with procrastination. You also want to make sure your routine or deadline is reasonable for you, otherwise it won’t be effective. For instance, if you have a busy schedule, don’t ruin your sleep schedule to meet a goal; adjust the goal. The most important thing is you are held accountable. If you find yourself slacking, have a friend or family member ask you at the end of each day or week whether you met your writing goals. Another way to hold yourself accountable is to reward yourself for each goal met. Do what works for you!
As Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Reading can give you inspiration for plot or character ideas, help you understand different writing styles, or show you different tropes in your genre. Holding a finished novel in your hand can help you regain lost motivation to work on your own.
Of course, as hard as you try to avoid it, writer’s block may still overwhelm you at times. Here are some tips for fixing it.
FIXING WRITER'S BLOCK
CHANGE OF PACE
Do you always write in the same place, at the same time, or in the same format? Try writing in the library instead of at home, waking up earlier to work instead of working at night, or handwriting scenes you would normally type. Changing up the way you work is an effective way to stimulate creativity you were lacking before.
WRITE SOMETHING ELSE
Take a break from your current WIP while still being productive. If you have a story idea you were putting off for later, work on it now. Maybe outline your next novel. Try writing flash fiction or short stories. Writing a different story can teach you more about your writing style and expose you to other genres. When you return to your WIP, you’ll have a fresh mind filled with new ideas.
Rewrite your last chapter from another character’s perspective. You already know what happened in the last chapter, because you already wrote it. Writing it from another character’s POV allows you to gain insight into that character. Maybe you weren’t able to continue the scene based on the way the original narrator explained it. If another character narrates the scene, is there a logical thing for them to do?
WRITE MISSING SCENES
There are many scenes that aren’t in your book. This can be things that happened in your characters’ past or things a non-POV character experienced. Writing these can help you understand your characters and plot better.
TAKE A BREAK
Pause writing altogether. I say this with caution, at one point having found myself taking more breaks than I spent time writing. If all else fails, a short break (about a week) from writing can reinvigorate your creativity and stimulate your imagination.
Writer’s block is a formidable enemy, but it can be conquered with some will. What do you do to prevent or overcome writer’s block? Let me know in the comments!