Sunday was sunny and beautiful. The perfect day for getting outside. I sent a quick text to my friend, Kristin, to see if I could stop by and chat. She quickly texted back and within minutes, I found myself at the turquoise picnic table in her front yard under a large magnolia tree.
(photo, table, front yard & grand magnolia tree: all my dear friend, kristin schell :)
We talked family, church and neighbor things. And then, as it usually does, our conversation turned to writer things. She is working on a book and I just finished writing one so we commiserated about writer’s block.
Writer’s block is the devil. It makes you feel afraid and stupid. It tricks you into thinking you should just shut down and clean out every closet in your whole house instead of wrestling with the words. Writer’s block tells you to spend an inordinate amount of time checking Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but never SAY anything.
So I thought it might be useful to talk about some ways to fight back …
12 Tips for Writer’s Block:
- Write short sharing style blurbs on your FB wall. I do this all the time. Much less intimidating than facing a blank Word doc. And sometimes they turn into nice pieces of a chapter.
- Make a ‘sticky wall’ to organize your thoughts. I have a lot of ideas. They’re like kittens. They keep reproducing themselves. And if I ignore them, they meow louder. So I write them down and put them on the wall. This helps me stay focused. If the idea is worth incorporating into my book or blog post, I know right where it is and I’ll use it.
- Disregard the notion that you’ll run dry of ideas. This is anxiety at it’s worst. Paul Young said that only happens when you think the inspiration comes from inside you, instead of from God. Laugh at yourself when you have this thought. Because it really is kind of funny.
- Write a real note. The kind on paper. To a friend. You will quickly see that you can still write. And there is research that says the mechanics of writing with pen in hand actually unlocks things creatively.
- Make the bed. A work in progress is a lot like an unmade bed. Messy, pillowy … word docs open everywhere. Revisions, typos, open tabs you’re researching. Looking at all this on your desktop just makes you tired which makes you want to actually get back in bed but since you already made the bed, it’s not an option.
- Get dressed in the morning. Yes, it’s charming to hang out in your pj’s writing when everyone is driving to work in the morning but staying in your pajamas past 10 am will make you feel like crawling back into bed. Good news is you already made your bed, yes?
- Run short errands. Water your plants. Walk the dog. Get coffee. Short errands help me when I’m fixated on something that I can’t figure out.
- Get some exercise. On a deadline, it’s tempting to think you’ll sit on your butt all day long, pound it out and finish the whole thing. But the truth is you’ll probably just sit on your butt all day long. Not good for anybody.
- Think of your WIP as a newborn baby. Every single book I’ve finished has demanded more of me than I thought I could give. And every single book I’ve written turned my schedule inside out. Writing a book is not the time for a rigid, packed schedule. Yield to the writing process. Even if the process happens to include getting up at 4:30 am to write. So be it.
- Change writing locations. I mostly write at home but I change rooms as I write. While writing Unafraid, it was my living room at 4 am. Then at 7 am, I’ll sit on my front porch. Sometimes if I was stuck, I’d head to my husband’s office at noon. By 5 pm, I’d be in the family room. Some writers like coffee shops but I keep close to home.
- Read books about writing. Emily Freeman recently posted on Instagram all of the ‘writer’ books she has on her self. It’s a good list. I’ve been reading The Right to Write for about two months now and it’s been super helpful.
- Meet with a friend. Kristin and I talk writer stuff all the time. It helps unlock the fear and weirdness. Find a friend, meet with her.
What about you? Are you facing writer’s block? Got any tips?