Writer’s block is something we all face, whether you’re a novelist or a social media manager. Copywriter Emily Fahey offers three tips to get you past your hurdle and writing again.
It happens to all of us. You go to bed excited about where your novel is headed, and you wake up completely bewildered as to how your characters got here and what to do with them. Or you’re staring at a computer screen, wondering for the hundredth time how to reword copy to fit into 140 characters without losing any of its charm or humor.
Poet Syliva Plath journaled, “Every day, writing. No matter how bad. Something will come.” And the point, of course, is about consistency. But you still have the problem of how to get that first word out on the page. Here are a few tips that I fall back on to get to past writer’s block.
Set the Mood
Make sure you have all the amenities needed for a successful writing session: writing materials and resources, mood music, a favorite beverage or snack, etc. If you’re writing the next great western, you don’t necessarily want Bach in the background. And munching on corn chips isn’t going to give you the best romance scene. And don’t forget that awful feeling of jumping up midpage to rummage around in your ever-growing pile of idea notebooks to find that one perfect paragraph you jotted down in the grocery aisle. Setting the mood is all about preparation.Poet Syliva Plath journaled, “Every day, writing. No matter how bad. Something will come.” But what do you do when the words don't come? Check out our tips for beating writer's block. #writingtips #writersblock Click To Tweet
Though, be warned, you can just as easily fall down the rabbit hole of creating the perfect Spotify playlist and find that you’ve wasted an hour. Set a timer, give yourself fifteen minutes to get ready, and then start writing.
Try a Challenge
NaNoWriMo has a host of wonderful writing challenges to get you out of your head and into the spirit. Their Twitter account leads five- to fifteen-minute writing blasts, in which you furiously speed forward with your manuscript, heedless of punctuation or spelling. They also offer team challenges that encourage you to engage a friend to write alongside you, allowing a little healthy competition to spur you along. My personal favorite is the Harry Potter word crawl, which involves writing challenges from throughout the book with rewards such as Galleons and house placement.Inject a little excitement into your writing by trying a writing challenge. #writingtips #writersblock Click To Tweet
The point is to inject a little excitement into your writing, and I can’t tell you how many delightful turns and surprises have come to my novel in progress when I have just sat down with a timer and typed away furiously until the bell rang. It’s not about perfection; it’s about getting you something to work with that you can edit well later.
Plan a Reward
Writing can be maddening—there’s a reason so many authors have turned to the drink. But before you pick up the bottle in despair, consider a little reward for the hard work you’ve done thus far.
I’m not above giving myself a reward as I start writing, if the reward involves a favorite food and drink (currently Tillamook mint chocolate chip ice cream and rosé apple cider, if you’re curious). But if you feel you need to work for your reward, think of something that will give you joy at the end of your writing day. I’m all about a bubble bath at the end of a long session hunched over my laptop. Equally appreciated are a hot coffee and a solo browse through a bookstore.
Our senior editor, Hannah, had the brilliant idea of splurging on fancy ice cream dates with her husband after submitting writing packets for her MFA.
Whatever it is, give yourself something to look forward to, something you feel like you’ll have really earned after you type that last period.
Just Keep Writing
The next time you feel yourself dropping into a creative rut, try these tips. But sometimes only an outside perspective can give you the jump-start you need. If you feel like you’ve gone as far as you can without contracting outside help, consider hiring a developmental editor to set you on the right path.
Do you know other tricks that have helped you beat writer’s block? We’d love to hear them! Leave us your ideas on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and we might feature them in future social media posts.
About the Author
Emily spent ten years as a fundraising professional in higher education and public media and began moonlighting as a copywriter for the Scribe Source in 2014. She left the nonprofit world in 2018 to focus on copywriting, editing, and blog management for the Scribe Source.