Have you ever had writer’s block?
It’s the feeling of being out of words. The blank page is no longer a canvas to be danced upon with vocabulary and joy. It’s now a terrifying desert, devoid of adjectives and ideas, completely white and empty without an oasis in sight.
How do you beat moments like that? Here are 5 things I’ve learned to do in my 16 years as a professional writer:
1. Write fast.
Writer’s block is just a longer name for “fear.” One easy way to beat it is to write quickly. Don’t worry about spelling, mistakes or details. Just write. Write so fast your fear can’t keep up.
2. Write in different locations.
Sometimes, writer’s block likes to set up shop in my home office. It perches on my favorite chair and waits for me. Know what I do then? I find a different place to write. I head to the couch in the living room. I retreat to our bedroom. I hit up a local coffee shop. I throw writer’s block off the scent of the trail.
3. Do something unrelated to writing.
I have some of my best ideas about writing when I’m not writing. It’s almost like the ideas are hiding in the corners of my life and if I try too hard to catch them they see me coming. But when I’m out running they don’t suspect anything and they walk back into the open field of my mind. A mile in, they appear and I grab them.
4. Read something brilliant.
Good writers read good writers. If the tank is empty, fill it back up with something that inspires you and challenges you from the space you’re trying to write in. The books Bird by Bird and The War of Art saved me in the middle of writing my first book. (Non-fiction writers read great non-fiction readers. Songwriters analyze other songs. Etc.)
5. Get outside your medium.
Got a blog post you need to write? Listen to music. Writing a new play? Read a magazine article. Stuck on a non-fiction book? Pick up a novel. In point 4 we stayed within our medium. Now it’s time to jump mediums and stretch our definition of “writing.”
I think every writer thinks every other writer doesn’t struggle with writer’s block.
That’s nonsense. We all feel like we run out of ideas. We all get stuck. But it doesn’t mean we have to stay there.
Those are 5 techniques I use to beat writer’s block, what do you do when you run into it? Share your best tip in the comments!