Recognizing and Crushing Writer’s Block: 7 Steps for Getting Past Delays and Back on Track

It’s every writer’s nightmare: staring at your screen (or paper if you’re still using a typewriter for inspiration!) but you can’t type anything. Your mind’s a total blank.

It might be a small issue; e.g., “What adjective should I use?” or  “Is this ‘funny’ statement really laugh-inducing?”

Other times it can feel like a boulder’s keeping your fingers from moving. 

Even the first feeling of negativity can stall anyone’s productivity, but what’s the main obstacle that stops you from putting fingers to the keyboard and staying focused: Failure? Misunderstandings? Lawsuits? Family disgust? Losing clients?  

3 Ways Writers Self-Sabotage

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Center for Writing Studies notes there are a slew of comebacks or reboots that sound like a new start, but actually create more delays:

  1. Waiting for total inspiration—To stir up ideas, you stare at the moon. Or don your face mask and walk through your neighborhood. It’s soothing, but you don’t write.
  2. Demanding perfection—Many writers figure they shouldn’t do any work unless it’s brilliant from the get-go. Ha! When does that happen, even without the virus affecting our lives?
  3. Adding supposedly introductory phrases—OK, you do write. But it’s stuff like, “Due to recent stats…” or “Everyone should recognize…” but that’s as far as you get. Shift your head space and add something just to complete those kinds of sentences. Maybe funny, maybe bizarre, it doesn’t matter as long as you stay with it long enough to finish the sentence or paragraph.

4 Ways for Getting Back on Track

As we mentioned in our story on fighting depression, sometimes brief writing getaways can rekindle your energy. But if you use in-depth housecleaning, finishing that model sailboat, or even implementing healthy steps like in-home walking for a writing substitute, it won’t break your block. Your house will be cleaner, your boat will look gorgeous, and your Fitbit will pile up the steps, but your empty page will still be waiting. 

Instead, get back to your writing area and try some of the tricks CWS adds to its warnings: 

  1. Write anythingIt’s called “freestyle” and it’s just scribbling anything you think of. Put down any book titles that come to mind and don’t fret about which is ideal. Or write 500 words to start your next chapter. (If you’re the next James Patterson, 500 might be all you need!) Or use those introductory phrases from #3 above and finish them off with…well, anything. 
  2. Satisfice”—Talk about creative; it’s a word from CSW. They say it’s a combo of “satisfy” and “suffice.” So you’re choosing words, phrases, etc., that satisfy your needs temporarily, even if you sacrifice what you truly want to say. (Hmm…could be a combo of “satisfy” and “sacrifice” too.) You can always bracket or highlight your less-than-perfect solution to easily detect it for your next review. At least you’re moving your first draft forward again. 
  3. Start anywhere—Don’t worry if all your ducks aren’t in a row. Craft the next sentence of any section. Can’t find the segue between Chapter 1’s first and second paragraphs? Start the third. Or zip over to Chapter 4 if you think you can more easily knock out “Exercise Tips” before doing Chapter 3’s “Here’s Smart Dinner Options.” (Note: “Skipping from chapter to chapter will work better if you’ve already outlined them.
  4. Get smart. Get help.

One last “break your block” tool is harvesting insights from others. With Smart Step Seven you brainstorm with colleagues in the same genre. Mystery, health, business, self-help…the list of writers’ groups goes on and on and on. Google searches and/or social media make it easy to find at least one group with members you can relate to. Or check your local library. Some are holding online authors meetings; maybe their members can help you.

Online participants do everything from simply commiserating to offering relevant changes like, “Oh, I think X would be a better headline.” Or “I suggest better describing this character’s physical appearance; he’s almost too vague.” The keys to success are: Don’t be oversensitive to critique, accept helpful pointers, and use what you think works.

At Wambtac Ghostwriters, we offer writing help for stuck authors. With our personalized author mentoring service, any author of any genre who wants an analysis of their outline or full manuscript can get in-depth reviews on current work and expert insights for moving forward. 

Whatever you choose, knock down that writer’s block and keep planting seeds. How else would any good book come to fruition?

For more information (and inspiration!), contact us at link. Or call right now: 800-641-3936.