“I don’t know how to do this. Clearly I can’t write! I’m no writer at all!”
-Every writer, ever
Is this familiar? Of course it is. We’ve all been there! The real question, then, is what can we do when the inevitable stuck-ness stands in our way like some Sisyphean boulder.
Writer’s Block, anyone?
Some sources say Writer’s Block is merely a myth.
Myth or not, I think we all agree that some days the words come much easier than others!
Here are a few ideas that could help when the words are coming as easily as pulling teeth from an alligator:
Take a break – Just step away. It seems counterintuitive to stop writing when you’re supposed to start writing, but there is some scientific reasoning to this recommendation. When we stop focusing so hard on a problem we’re trying to solve, our brains have time to go work in the Mind Basement (does that work? Maybe Mind Garage?) while we focus on something else. It’s the same reason we suddenly remember an actor’s name at midnight when we thought, “Where do I know them from?” four hours earlier. (Answer: Law & Order. It’s always Law & Order!)
So, guilt-free, go take a walk, a shower, or a bike ride. Fun fact – the idea for my novel developed as I commuted regularly between Los Angeles and San Francisco. I often think up story ideas as I drive. Inconvenient, because I can’t write it down, but I just make sure I get to my destination, then make some notes for later.
Get some water – brain fog from dehydration is real! I used to drink V8 during D&D games. My wife thought it was weird, because it wasn’t our house, but hey, they offered! Why not, right? Get some antioxidants in there. It’s gotta be better than these potato chips I’m eating right no—I mean, chips, which of course I am not eating while I recommend healthy eating and hydration! That crunching you hear is just… Look, don’t judge me! (Just goes to show everyone needs these tips, including me!)
Make sure to get enough sleep. Sleep is highly underrated, and often one of our first sacrifices when we’re busy or struggling to meet a deadline. But lack of sleep can literally kill us, so get some good rest.
Call a writer friend and talk it through. If they’re a great and supportive friend, then I suppose they don’t have to be a writer friend. But writer friends are gold, and really get it, and often have the best feedback to shake your creative snow globe again and get you back on track.
Just keep writing anything. Literally write all words that come into your head including, “This is stupid I hate this story, I can’t do this,” etc.
You can also write things like:
“blah blah, insert scene here about this restaurant, Idk.”
And then come back to it later. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve written “NEED_NAME_HERE” recently and put it in bold red text, so I can search for it later in my word documents.
So yep, I’ll say it again, as it bears repeating. Just keep writing. Word after word, that’s what gets it done. I look at my current manuscript and think how the heck did I ever manage to write 236 pages??!? But I did, and now I’m revising it (which is far more difficult than having written it in the first place), and soon, it’ll be done, and I’ll do it all over again.
It’s a special kind of fulfilling self-torture in a way. Or maybe it’s a special kind of bliss that is regularly marred by torture, but the torture simply happens to be worth it, overall. (Or maybe I’m prone to hyperbole.)
Anyway, best of luck to you as you write. Just think the thoughts and write them down, and do your best and know that we all say, “omg I can’t do this, this is crap,” only to feel on top of the world and like actual creative flowing artists all over again shortly thereafter. I guess we just need to keep riding those waves as we play in the creativity ocean. Or some such fitting metaphor.
Have a good day, and happy writing!