Writers block. Just stating the words can send a shiver through any writer’s body. Some writers, both accomplished as well as up-and-coming, believe it’s superstitious to mention the words, but the sad truth is that most writers will experience writers block at some point in their career.
You may have a pressing deadline, for example a treatment for a script that absolutely needs to be completed within forty-eight hours. Or you could be in the middle of a feature film screenplay that is due for completion in a week or two. Perhaps you’re in the middle of a television series and suddenly the words stop flowing, the ideas stop coming to you, and you’re caught in that lonely world of writers block.
There are just about as many different ‘cures’ for writers block as there are writers in the world. Most, like remedies for hiccups, don’t really work all that well for most people. When your career is on the line, when deadlines are fast approaching (and in the entertainment world, production doesn’t wait for your writers block to let go of its grip over you), you need surefire ways to get past the block and get back to the writing.
I have scoured the Internet and spoken to countless writers from all genres and styles and walks of life to find the 8 best ways to get past writers block. These 8 methods are guaranteed to get the creative juices flowing, to help you slide past your fear of whatever hides in the dark passageways of your life, and get you to the finish line of your project. Now.
Using any one of these suggestions will help. Using more than one will force open the floodgates and you’ll soon find yourself sprinting to your writing goal’s finish line.
- Write down twenty questions about your story or script. Who is the main character? What does he want? Where is she from? Does she secretly love someone? What’s the weather like? It doesn’t matter what the questions are, as long as they relate to your story and only to your story. When you have your twenty questions, answer them. In all likelihood, these are questions you hadn’t considered yet and the simple act of answering them will get your thoughts moving in new directions. When you feel the ideas moving, and the block lifting, get back to your project and let it roll.
- Change your surroundings. We all get stuck in ruts from time to time. This is especially true, and natural, for writers. By simply moving –heading down to the beach with your laptop, going to the library, or even to a different café- can often inspire the creative process anew.
- Bargain with yourself. Sometimes writing can seem like a chore. The prospect of spending several hours in front of the computer knocking out page after page after page can be uninspiring. Instead, tell yourself that you will only write for 5 minutes. That’s a bargain. When you give your mind permission to think in small bites, it begins to devour the task at hand.
- Read aloud what you’ve written. Sometimes reading to ourselves doesn’t offer us the same inspiration as reading aloud. When we read, or act out, the script, it can break loose some of the rusted storylines and we see the path to the finish much more clearly.
- Read something else. Preferably something in the same format (for example, if you’re working on a screenplay, then pick up a different screenplay, something that won an award would be a great idea). Read this other work and when you begin to feel that familiar itch in the back of your mind, you’re ready to overcome your writers block.
- Brainstorm with a pen and a sheet of paper. Yes, use a pen and piece of paper, just like way back in the old days when you were in grade school. The act of writing manually is much different than that of writing on a computer. Feeling the pen move against the paper can often be enough to crack through any writers block, no matter how thick it is.
- Write an email. If you’re like most people, you have lists and lists of people whom you owe an email to. Pick one and begin writing to them. It’s a good idea if you choose a person whom you haven’t spoken to in a while, that way you can tell a great deal about yourself and what you’ve been up to. The act of writing, as in the idea behind number 6, can loosen the wheels and get them moving again.
- Go for a walk. Perhaps one of the most famous writers whose affinity for walks to help break free from the icy grip of writers block is Stephen King. When writing The Stand, he became stuck six hundred or so pages into the novel. He began taking walks and found that eased his mind and helped him maneuver around tricky territory and get him to his own finish line. Just be sure that you walk in a safe area, away from drifting cars and distracted drivers.
Any one of these methods will help any writer overcome writers block. Try it when you need. You might just be surprised with the results.