writ·er's block -
n. A usually temporary psychological inability to begin or continue work on a piece of writing.
a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece of writing
Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some blocked writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers.
Ever been there?
Thankfully I've never been there to the extent of it affecting me long term. I've had days where I've been too stressed or sidetracked or busy to sit down and write quality words, or not inspired enough at the moment to feel any desire to continue the story that day. But never to the extreme that I couldn't write anything at all for days.
Have you? How do you handle it?
Thankfully God made me with the ability to write well under pressure. (generally) Do you do better under pressure or with a deadline (self imposed or otherwise) or do you need freedom and lack of pressure to let the words flow?
There's no wrong or right way. We're all a little different and we have to do what works best for us as individuals. So what's your groove?
Here are some tips on how to beat writer's block. But really, first, you need determine if you even have it. I think there's a difference between true writer's block that probably comes from personal problems, stress, lack of sleep, pressure, fear, etc. and simply just not liking our story enough to continue with it. Figure out that difference in your novel first and go from there before you start going through these "beat it" steps.
1. Do something else creative. Use your brain in a different way - watch a movie, draw a picture, sketch, color in a coloring book! (this is really fun)
2. Take a break - watch a movie, read a novel, take a bubble bath (or all of the above!)
3. Exercise. Let those endorphins flow! They really work wonders and clear your head. And help you stay healthy and not get writer's-booty.
4. Take a nap or rest your eyes a while.
5. Treat yourself to your favorite snack - chocolate, ice cream, carrot sticks, whatever it is. (Candy corn cough cough)
6. Interact with family or friends. Brainstorm with a writing buddy or just call your great Aunt back that you've been avoiding for a few weeks. The conversation will distract and relax you and maybe even provide fodder for your story.
7. If you don't do well under pressure, then take pressure off. Remind yourself that this isn't life or death. Adjust your deadline if need be. Talk to your agent if this is a "real" deadline and if it's self imposed, cut yourself some slack and make a new timeline plan. But if you DO work well under pressure, crank it up. Give yourself a deadline.
8. If this works for you, instigate a reward/bribe program. For every paragraph written, reward yourself with a game of Solitaire, checking email, hanging out on FB or getting a handful of M&MS. ;)
9. Change location - go to Barnes & Noble, or go sit outside, or just move to another room in your house. Can work wonders!
10. Work on something else. Keep writing but ditch the story for awhile and write an essay. A newspaper article. Work on a poem or short story. Get words flowing somehow in some way then switch back. Or even consider jumping ahead in your story. If you're blocked on starting Chapter 4 but know that somewhere around Chapter 7 there's going to be a great kissing scene or fight scene or whatever, write that first. No one makes you go in order ;)
What works for YOU?