10 Ways to Dispel Writer’s Block

I spent the past week in the interior of Big Bend Ranch State Park, trying to steer clear of the hurricane-like winds that tossed around quite a storm of dust and horse manure. Thankfully I was able to get outside for a bit of hiking and trail running, but for the most part, the bad weather kept me holed up inside.

Inside where I should have been writing…

And while I did manage to hammer out a few good words, I also discovered that I was experiencing a little bit of writer’s block (I didn’t even get y’all a blog last week!). I’m not sure what exactly was to blame for this, but I think it had something to do with me trying to write about love, empathy, and unity, while the real world is literally doing the opposite, which, pardon my repulsive analogy here, really clogged up my creative intestinal tract.

I wanted to write. I desperately wanted to write. I’d sit down, committed to pouring 2,000 new words of Riley Dale onto the computer screen. But it wouldn’t come. Before I continue, let me reassure you that a clog in the brain during the writing process is a totally normal occurrence, and something I have experienced with both book one and book two of the trilogy, as well as with this final installment. An occasional obstruction is factored into my timeline for finishing the book on time.  

Writer’s block happens to anyone who sets out to conquer the written word—whether you are writing a full-length novel, a haiku, or a research paper. It can strike for any number of reasons— from fear of failure, to a burn out, to a desperate need for perfection. For me, my block comes not because I am uninspired or burnt out on the characters, but rather that my brain is bogged down with so much negative input that it muddles everything I am trying to accomplish with my story.

During these periods, and yes, there will be more over the next few months, there are a few activities I like to do to help loosen up the word jam in my head. I did in fact take part in a few of these activities over the past few days, and I’m happy to say that I have had an insanely productive week thus far. I love where the final installment is taking me!

For those fellow writers out there who get stuck and just can’t figure it out, here are some ways that help me get the juices flowing again, and the story back on track. I hope these help you as much as they help me!

10 Ways to Dispel Writer’s Block:

1) Read a book. Any book. Or two. Find inspiration and motivation from the people who have come before you.

2) Exercise. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands. Actually happiness has little to do with it. Take Hemmingway for instance… But what exercise does for me is it clears my mind. It helps me get lost and forget about the things that are bogging me down. I’ve had some of my greatest breakthroughs and written some of my favorite scenes in my head while running.

3) Write what you don’t normally write. Sometimes when I’m stuck I sit down and write something silly like a Haiku or a poem about the landscape around me. I’m no good at poetry. I don’t have to be. It is still a way to try and get my right brain moving again.

4) Watch a movie in your genre (or just watch the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy). I love books, but movies tell incredible stories as well. They can transport you, give you ideas, and motivate you to re-discover the passion for your story.

5) Set daily writing goals.  Even last week when I couldn’t function creatively, I forced myself to sit down and get something out there. My normal daily goal is 2,000 words. When I don’t know what to write, I will still try and come up with something, even one crummy paragraph.

6) Read inspirational quotes. Remind yourself why you are doing this and let others remind you as well. Remind yourself that it isn’t easy, and if it were, everyone would be doing it. We don’t write because it is convenient and makes us millions $$$. We write because we must.

7) Go outside. I mean this. Step out of your door. Smell fresh air. Watch a sun set. Stare at a speck of dust. Nature is the greatest healer of all.

8) People watch. Everyone has the potential to be a character.

9) Paint, color, take pictures, or do something artistic. Sometimes your right brain just needs a break from writing. You get tired of doing things over and over again and maybe your brain does too. Creating some new form of art can be a great way for you to find fulfillment while your brain takes a vacation.

10) TURN OFF THE NEWS AND GET OFF OF FACEBOOK! This was the most important one for me this go around. Bad news and anger can be addicting. They can be all-consuming and take hold of every fiber in your being. Turn it all off for periods of time and let your peace of mind reset.

What I’m reading: Prey by Michael Creighton and The History of the World in Bite-Sized Chunks, Emma Marriott

2017 Books I’ve Finished (2/30):

The Stand, Stephen King (This should count as three…)

UR, Stephen King (I’m going through a phase…)