So often you hear writers complaining about being struck down by ‘Writer’s Block’, a fearsome disease that will kill off every creative thought you ever had. However, I think 95% of the cases people call writer’s block is simply a lack of motivation.
I see it in myself all the time: It’s not that I CAN’T write, it’s that I don’t FEEL like writing. It took me a while to realize the difference.
Since I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t struggle with this, I thought I would share some of the things that work for me when dealing with this pseudo-disease:
#1 – Sit Your Ass Down and Write
And before you protest: Yes, it IS that simple(most of the time, anyway).
If you’re not motivated to write, you’re not going to write unless you force yourself. Just sitting around, waiting for that itch to return, rarely helps anything. Besides, I find that even when the thought of writing makes me want to curl up in my bed and hide, I almost always regain some amount of motivation as soon as I have typed out that first painful sentence. My brain quickly realizes ‘Hey, this isn’t that hard!’.
#2 – Write by Hand
This is my nr. 1 life saver when I feel like I spend more time staring at a blank screen than actually writing.
Pick up a pen and a notebook, and abandon your keyboard for a while. You will quickly discover that your mind suddenly works way faster than you can write and you won’t have to stop constantly to consider what to write next, as you already thought of it long before the words hit the page. Also, because it’s harder to rewrite without a delete button, you won’t be tempted to go back and change a sentence 50 times instead of moving on. That’s what rewriting and editing is for, anyway!
#3 – Switch Locations
I do my best writing on the train, in the park while my dogs play, in waiting rooms, at parties where I don’t know anyone… But never at home. Why?
Because there’s distractions everywhere.
If there’s a thousand other things I would rather do than writing, I have to make sure I don’t have access to those things. If I sit by my laptop, I have the biggest distration of all times looming over me: The Internet. Reading forums about writing is sure to kill off any writing I might have done. Oh, the irony…
Add to that all the other things I suddenly decide to do when I’m at home with time to write: Walk the dogs, watch programs about sloths on TV, clean the owl’s cage, rearrange my bookshelves, stare at the cat… The list goes on. Funnily enough, I don’t feel like doing any of those things unless I have better things to do. *Cough* write *cough*
That’s why it’s much better to take my tablet(which I HATE using for internet surfing) and an attachable keyboard to a park or a cafe. Puts the mind in a less distracted state, since there’s really nothing better to do.
#4 – Set a Goal
This relates back to #1. If you tell yourself you have to write # words a day, it’s easier to sit down and get it over with.
Last time I used this, I set a very modest goal of 200 words per day, because it wouldn’t seem so daunting. It turned out that many days I wrote close to 2000 words instead, because ‘Well, I might as well keep going’.
#5 – Talk About It
Yes, yes, I know most writers are very solidary creatures, but if you aren’t the type who hides in your dungeon with 6 deadbolts on the door, this might be helpful.
Sometimes it’s good to get out of your own head for a while and share your writing with an outsider. When I’m stuck I often ask a friend for some advice on what I’m writing(or supposed to write) and though they rarely come up with anything useful, just being able to talk about it tends to shock my mind back into action.
Once I asked a couple of friends to brainstorm a twist with me in a Facebook chat. I don’t think they actually came up with a single idea, but sharing my own thoughts got the juices running and it ended up with me spewing ideas and my poor friends trying to write ‘Sure’, ‘What could work’ or ‘I like the other idea better’ fast enough to keep up.
Do you have any tips to add? What works best for you when the muses abandon you? Share it with us in the comments!