Whether you’re a new writer or have been penning books for decades, the hideous torturer that is Writer’s Block can haunt you at any given time. You may be tempted to fall ill to its restrictive nature, but I have three steps you can add to your arsenal to conquer the Writer’s Block beast. Are you ready to smash Writer’s Block like Mario? Let’s get started!
Step 1: Discover the Cause
Nine times out of ten, Writer’s Block hinders our creativity due to an underlying problem. The problem can be a number of things, ranging from an inhibitor in our minds, personal problems, or story issues. In order to discover the cause of your case of Writer’s Block, take a moment to reflect on what the root of the problem may be.
Many times, we as writers hinder ourselves from writing due to mental blocks. Ask yourself the following questions. If you can answer YES to any of them, we’ll seek to solve the issue(s) in Step 2:
- Am I afraid of what others will think of my writing?
- Am I afraid of rejection?
- Am I comparing myself to other authors?
- Am I dwelling on achieving success as an author?
- Are any external factors (friends, family, work, stress) affecting my ability to write?
Our stories themselves may also be causing our inkwell to run dry. If you passed the Self Reflection portion, ask yourself these questions about your WIP:
- Do I like the direction the story is headed?
- Are my characters flat?
- Do I have an idea of where the story is headed?
- Am I having reservations about telling this story?
- Does it contain cliches or inconsistencies?
Step 2: Write it Out
Now that you’ve determined your reason(s) behind your case of Writer’s Block, it’s time to tackle the beast by doing the one thing it’s keeping you from doing… writing!
Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me. We’re not diving back headfirst into your WIP with your newly discovered writing anxieties looming over your shoulder. Instead, break out a sheet of paper and write about why you have the anxiety in the first place.
For example, when I first became serious about rewriting my current WIP, The Crush, last year, Writer’s Block kept punching me in the gut. Writing out why I was 1) Afraid of what others will think of it, 2) Panicked that I had no idea where the story was headed, and 3) Having reservations about telling the story helped me realize I needed to nip those anxieties in the butt.
Writing out these anxieties provides tangible reasons why the anxiety exists, reasons you can then use to find solutions to ease the anxieties.
Writing Out Your Reasons
- Why do I feel these anxieties?
- What can I do to relieve these anxieties?
Do your best soul-searching to answer these questions, and answer them thoroughly. The more thorough they are, the more helpful they will be in getting you back on track. Coming up with methods for relieving these anxieties opens new doors for your WIP.
Referring back to my example of The Crush, I realized I was having Writer’s Block anxieties and came up with action steps for each of them:
Fear: Afraid of my peers’ opinions on the story.
Method of Attack: Learn to embrace constructive criticism. Ignore deconstructive criticism. Write for myself and God’s opinion only.
Fear: Afraid of having a Nowheresville plot.
Method of Attack: Learned to plot for the first time instead of pantsing it out for ten more years.
Fear: Having reservations about telling this story.
Method of Attack: Learned to edit out the parts I was having reservations about and rewrite the story to better reflect the new plot direction.
It’s not easy, but if you spend time and effort on learning to put your writer anxieties to rest, it’s worth it.
Step 3: Take a Break and Try Again
After writing it out, collecting your thoughts, and forming a game plan, take a brief break to clear your head of all things writing. No, this is not Game Over; just relax for a day to a week, and then jump back in your WIP. With a fresh outlook and new strategy, you should be well equipped to smash Writer’s Block like Mario and win the game with a finished draft under your belt.
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
What are your methods for battling Writer’s Block? Let me know in the comments!