A Serious Case of Writer’s Block

Is there such a thing, or is this a term used by writers who know they want to write, know they must write, but are frightened to put pen to paper or put fingers to the keyboard? We all go through a phase when nothing seems to come into our heads, and the mind and page remain blank.

Writing is a habit, one is easily broken by distractions of life and home cutting in. You set yourself tasks, allot your precious “writing time” into your busy schedule yet nothing spills out. Or you reach a point in your current WIP, often in the middle when the plot and story sag, or in my case droop, and you don’t know how to move it forward. It’s happened on numerous occasions, particular when I haven’t been able to work on one of my books for a long time. Artists also experience this self-same thing so, obviously, it must be some electrical brain impulse thingy hard at work blocking the brain stems from creativity. So what can we do to get the right synapses working again?

In the many years I’ve been writing I’ve developed a few  ploys to jump-start the creative juices so thought I would share them with you. They may not work for you, but in all cases, it doesn’t matter what you write, it can all be totally incomprehensible and probably end up being deleted but at least you are writing, and writing is all about habit. Or you may find, as I have, that magic scene you were searching for comes alive. The missing part to get from B to C materialises. Or you find you really need a new dress to wear to next week’s party.

1)      Put on some music. Your favourite CD. Music is mood enhancing. Music retrieves memories. Both of these can inspire. Not working? Then write about the actual words you are listening to. Write down the lyrics. Write your own lyrics to the melody. They might not make sense, but somewhere there will be the prompt, that little spark that turns on the word gush.

2)     Turn everything off, open the window and just listen. Listen to the sounds in the street, those around you. Can you hear bird song? Traffic noise? People talking? Something else? Write a few sentences about what you can hear. Now, what can you see? Again, write it down. Next, smell the air. Is it sweet, damp, of mown grass, or full of  bbq fumes? Imagine what’s going on and write it down.

3)     Open the wardrobe door. Look at your clothes. Pick out your favourite outfit or dress or pair of shoes. Imagine the place where you would most like to wear it. What you would like to happen. Whom you would like to meet whilst in that sexy little red number? Imagine your heroine in the outfit. Would it suit her? Would it be her style? If not, what would she like to wear, and why.

4)      Too cold, wet or windy to have the window open? Then what can you hear indoors? In your writing room. A clock ticking? The hard drive on your computer whirring? What memories have you of clocks? Computers? The neighbours arguing? The kid across the road battling hell out of his new drum kit? Can you recall a funny instance concerning any or all of the things you can hear? Write it down. Create a scene. Unblock the mind.

5)      Turn on Google Images. Type in where you would most like to be in the world. Look at the photos that come up and then imagine yourself there. What would you be wearing? Why are you there? Are you meeting someone?

6)      Write the last scene of your novel and work backwards to where the lull in the middle is.

7)      Take a book from your library, preferably one you haven’t yet read, more preferable, one you are liable not to read. Write the second-to-last paragraph out. Then, using this as an opening gambit, write what happens next. Or, if you prefer, write a scene leading up to this final paragraph.

8)      Open any page in today’s newspaper. Pick one article or one leader. Write your own slant on it.

I bet you haven’t got writers’ block now. I bet your thought processes are flying quicker than you can type after just one of these exercises. I hope I’ve given you a few ideas that will work for you. Do tell me about it or of any tricks you have to fire up the imagination.

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12 thoughts on “A Serious Case of Writer’s Block

Add yours

  1. Great suggestions. Yes, it’s all about habit. But if you get stuck, you’re in danger of losing just that. What you suggest means getting something out of our writing time even when it’s been a while…
    AliB

  2. Great article! I don’t really get writer’s block but I do get writer’s procrastination – urgent need to tidy the study etc. – but once I get going again, I’m generally off and running. Some of these tips would be great to get me back in the zone quicker. Thank you, you’ve inspired me to stop filing (and flitting between blogs!)

  3. Writer’s block hasn’t come to visit me lately, but there are some tactics here I hadn’t tried the last time he came by. Thanks for sharing, I’m tucking these away for future reference!

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