Feeling stuck or suffering from Writer’s Block is not fun, but it’s nothing to feel ashamed of. You know what I’m talking about. Someone asks how the book writing is going and you say things are good even though you haven’t technically sat down in days (or months) and actually written or edited anything. You feel terrible, guilty, and some shame but you don’t have to.
What exactly is Writer’s Block anyways?
Maybe you’re not writing at all and totally avoiding sitting down at your computer at all costs – your kitchen has never been more clean and organized though.
Maybe you are writing some, but you hate every minute of it and you’re starting to want to avoid that computer, the bathroom mold is calling your name.
Maybe you’re feeling a bit icky about the words you are producing as nothing sounds right, nothing feels right, and you’d rather spend your precious writing time researching one tiny detail in your novel, make another mood board or playlist, and reading that new book that might help you write yours. Yes, all of those things are fun and very much needed (at least to me) but there’s a fine line between research and procrastination.
We are all feeling wiped out – Pandemic, lockdowns, online school for our kids, Zoom meetings all day, no coffee shops to write at, no aimlessly wandering Target listening to other people’s conversations – it’s been hard and we are all feeling dry and burnt out so luckily, you are not alone.
Why do I say luckily? Because when we’re having writer’s block and we starting feel ashamed we think we alone are suffering, but the truth is we are all feeling degrees of this pandemic pickle (a phrase I coined because I hate pickles but love alliteration – and pickles are sour and that’s the feeling I sometimes get when blocks rear their ugly head) but we can do some things to help.
Change Your Routine
You probably can’t go to Starbucks or other coffee houses to write, but you can go to a different location in your house. You can try hand writing a few pages if you’re used to typing (or vice versa) or go totally nuts and use the voice memo on your smartphone to speak aloud a passage, scene, or whole chapter. Or use the voice memo feature to talk through issues you are having with your novel like a talk therapy session.
Like I mentioned a few blog posts back you can journal as if you are one of all of your characters which does help unlock some fun dialogue and patterns of speech for each of them, but you can also just journal about your book. What do you like about your story? What are you not liking right now? What do you love about your main character? What do you hate about them? What do you love about your antagonist? What makes them the perfect villain? Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day to day grind of writing that we forget why we started writing our current WIP in the first place. Why do you love your story? What was the inspiration?
Talk It Out
Do you have another writing friend? Ask them how they’re feeling and let them know what you’re feeling and see if you can help each other out. If none of your friends are writers, turn to Facebook or another group online (Discord has quite a few) to share what you’re feeling and let others offer advice. Being honest and authentic with others allows them to be open and honest back and to let them see that they are not alone either.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
It’s hard right now. Writer’s Block is always hard (even without being in lockdown) but please don’t beat yourself up that won’t help anything and will only make you feel worse. Instead, give yourself some grace. Talk to yourself the way you would your child or your best friend if they were having this issue. Make your favorite hot beverage and tell that beautiful writer in the mirror that tomorrow will be better.
Write something…even if it’s one sentence. Edit something…even if it’s one paragraph. In fact, it’s better to restart slowly. Make a plan to write for 1 minute and then stop. Do that for a few days and see if you’re itching to get back to it. If not, great – keep up with the one minute a day until you do feel better. One minute a day is better than not writing at all for months on end. I know it seems silly, but trust me it will keep you connected to your novel, your story and your characters without driving yourself crazy. It really is a win-win.
Look back at how far you’ve come. Did you write one chapter before writer’s block? Great! Did you get through a whole draft but editing is causing you problems? Awesome! Celebrate what you’ve done and see that you can and will write again. Celebrate that you are aware of your problem and you are taking steps to fix them. Smile at that beautiful writer in the mirror and celebrate that you are a Writer – own it, claim it, call it, shout it out loud and proud. You are a beautiful writer and I never want you to forget it!
Which one of these tips and tricks are you going to try first? I would love to know.