It's every writer's worst nightmare. Have no fear, Hollie is here to give you seven quick, actionable tips to help prevent and manage the dreaded creative slump.
In a world where productivity is valued higher than our mental health, experiencing writer's block can feel like more than just a creative slump. You might start to devalue your writing abilities, or worse, decide to stop writing altogether. But that needn't be the case, as I've compiled this little list of hacks for you to avoid the block completely. Let me know if any of them work for you!
1 | Go back to the drawing board
Wherever you're stuck – be it on a chapter, a character, a scene, an ending or back at the beginning – return to what ignited your early ideas. Go back to your initial plans. Reviewing where it all began can give you new perspective and recharge your current ideas. You'd be surprised how far you can veer from that first seed when you begin typing. Sometimes I return to the first song I listened to that felt like my project and it's like seeing the movie version in my head playing again. I pick up on bits I lost or forgot and usually find at least something to get those writing cogs clicking again.
2 | Go back to the research board
If the drawing board didn't do much for you or you're not much of a planner in your writing, sometimes researching other existing works can be a great source of inspiration. Have you ever read a new book and thought of ways you would change the ending? Or wondered what that story would look like from a different perspective? I have. And it's usually the start of a new story idea. You can also check out story prompts, like my #PromptCorner posts on Instagram to get more tips on finding fresh inspiration.
3 | Create a task or note list with NO due dates
Sometimes a good old brain dump is exactly what the doctor ordered. This is similar to the planning stage but much less strenuous. Give yourself the freedom to write without judgement or a deadline. Jot down bullet points, drawings, even incoherent notes if that helps; anything related to what you've got left to do that you might be too afraid to tackle yet, or just rough ideas you've got. Turning the pressure off is one of the best ways to turn the creative tap back on.
4 | Read or edit first, to enter the Flow State
If you're stuck getting going on the next chapter or a new project, try reading or editing an existing chapter or paragraph first to minimise your fear of that dang blank page. Why? Because tasks that involve recognising patterns like those used to edit a piece of writing can induce a state of hyper-focus or "Flow", in our brain. You've probably experienced it before, emerging from a furious state of writing, wondering where the last 2 hours went. Triggering this state creates a boost in creativity, motivation and productivity – perfect for beating writer's block. You can read more about the Flow State in another blog post very soon...
5 | Stop while you still have ideas for tomorrow
It's natural when you're having a good writing day to write, write, write until you're out of steam. You might even feel like you need to hold on to this burst of creativity while you have it. But if you're looking to create a writing routine or finish the marathon that is writing a full-length novel, you'll want to save some ideas for tomorrow. Make a list of the scene ideas or lines of dialogue you have ready to play with under your latest paragraph so you can return to them later. This prevents you from having to come up with something fresh and avoid writer's block from the offset.
6 | Start with small, easy targets
This tip works well in combination with the previous. A lot of the time, writer's block comes from too much pressure or a lack of confidence. One of the best ways to encourage our silly little monkey brains is to give it a treat – sometimes that motivation just looks like a tick in a box. If you're anything like me, you might find it difficult to feel satisfied with a day's work until you've spent hours on it and have thousands of words to show for it. But we're already shooting ourselves in the foot. Reel your whip back in and set yourself a smaller goal. The more you tick off, the more motivated you'll feel to come back tomorrow with those ideas you saved from yesterday.
7 | Take a break
Sometimes, writer's block is a sign it's time to rest. If you're stuck in the middle of a project, you might find that stepping away to let it breathe is one of the best things you can do. You relieve the pressure of wracking up new ideas and can get some fresh perspective. All the while it's at the back of your mind, your curious writing brain will still be on the lookout for relevant ideas. Let them bubble away under the surface until your creativity smacks you in the mouth with the big idea you've been waiting for. Give yourself the license to step away, even if just for a day.
So those are my seven tips for preventing and beating writer's block. I hope you found them helpful.
Let me know if you have any tips below!👇
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