Hello readers of Kate the Almost Great! My name is Cherie Jamison and I blog over at Modern Yet Nostalgic. I write about pop culture, books, and my life as a single twenty something trying to figure out this whole “adult” thing. I try to write with humor. Hopefully that comes through.
I’ve always considered myself a writer. I’ve been writing fiction since elementary school. I studied journalism in college. And, of course, I’m a blogger. With all of these different types of writing, one thing is always true: sometimes I just don’t know what to write.
Writer’s block can come in many forms. You could feel so blocked you don’t even have an inkling of an idea what to write about. Or, possibly worse, you might know what you want to say but you for some reason can’t get the words out.
If you’re experiencing writer’s block, I have a few tips that will hopefully get the words flowing.
1. Go for a relaxing drive
I don’t know about you, but going for a nice drive through a scenic area is one of the most relaxing and inspirational things I can do. Find a place you think is beautiful (it could be mountains, corn fields, or just a nice winding road off the beaten path) and go for a spin.
On these drives, I like to keep an audio recorder handy (you can get an app on your phone if you don’t already have one) and record myself as I think of things. You might not come up with an entire chapter or article, but you might find those first sentences that you need to get the ball rolling.
My suggestion is not to go to an area with a lot of traffic. If you’re like me, traffic is agitating and you’re going to want to be as relaxed as possible to allow your mind to open up.
2. Make†a mood playlist
Kate actually has an entire post about this that you can read. I’ve always found it really helpful to create a playlist or listen to an album that fits the mood you’re trying to create with your writing. If you’re writing something sad or bleak, listen to music that you find really emotional. If you’re writing something upbeat, listen to catchy pop songs.
In the case of fiction writing, I will sometimes also listen to music that I think my characters will like. This helps me kind of get inside that person’s head a little better. I may have created the character, but that doesn’t mean that I automatically know the best way to portray them. Music can help with that.
I personally cannot listen to music while writing unless it is playing so low it is barely audible, but I will listen to music right before I sit down to write so that I will go into it with the right mindset.
3. Create an outline
Do you remember having to create outlines for English papers in school? I actually always enjoyed writing outlines and I’ve carried over the practice into adulthood. If you have a way of seeing exactly what points you want to cover, you can more easily start moving your piece of writing in the proper direction.
Your outline does not have to follow any certain guidelines. It can be as detailed or as sparse as you want it to be. Sometimes I will write character outlines. Sometimes I’ll write plot outlines. Plot outlines are helpful to me in filling any empty gaps that I might have in the story. If I know where I’m starting and where I’m ending, an outline can help me flesh out what needs to occur in the middle of the work.
4. Read your favorite authors
If I’m feeling really blocked, I will sometimes go back and read some excerpts of my favorite books, stories, or poems. Sometimes reading words by your favorite writers can help you find your voice. I’m not by any means saying to copy your favorites author’s style, but just reading something that you found really meaningful can sometimes serve as a way fuel your own creativity.
I will sometimes find similar inspiration in my favorite movies. Good writing isn’t necessarily limited to reading words on a page. A good story can come in many forms.
5. Take some time off
It’s not admitting defeat to take a few days off from writing. Clearing your head can actually be good for you. The more you stare at a blank screen, the more pressure you’re going to feel to write. Good, authentic writing is not going to come out of pressure. That’s part of why I gave up on NaNoWriMo this year. Telling myself I had to hit a certain number of words in a certain period of time just caused me to get sloppy.
This may not work for everyone. Some people thrive under pressure and some people are under strict deadlines that they have to meet. If you have the ability to, though, I suggest taking a little time away from your work to let yourself collect your thoughts and rest. Come back in a few days and you will likely feel refreshed and ready to write.
This is how I overcome writer’s block. What tips do you have? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. You can also feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook! I can’t wait to hear from you.
Thanks, Cherie! If you’re looking for other tips, check out my post on 7 more ways to combat writer’s block.