Dear Writer, are you wondering how to overcome a writer’s block? You’re in good company.
Writer’s block is a common condition that affects almost every writer. This term is often used to describe a situation where a writer loses their creative drive or experiences a creative meltdown of sorts. Many creatives often struggle to overcome writer’s block and are often in despair when they can’t get their creative juices flowing.
Studies suggest that it is possible to experience writer’s block and to overcome it several times. Many literary greats have written eloquently after various spells of writer’s block.
To make your job easier, we have compiled a list that may help you to figure out how to overcome writer’s block and in some ways, even, avoid this malaise.
Understand your writing style
Every writer has a unique voice. Every writer has their own style of writing. As a writer, you must be able to understand your own tune, your own voice and your style. Many a time when writers get mental blocks during their writing, it is because they suddenly did not know how to put their ideas down, how to write it or express it. This is most times because they have gotten to a certain point where they no longer understand themselves. Most times they never understood themselves from the very beginning.
Some writers often aim to write like their favorite author. They put up this narrative in their head, the voice of another author pushing them on to write a few words, but when everything gets jumbled up, they stop. Dear writer, discover yourself on your own. Do not aspire to write like anyone because they are well achieved or because you simply like their way of writing. Struggle to find what suits you, what is buried within you. This way, there is a chance you won’t get stuck on the way and wonder how to write down your own idea. The following steps would help you discover your own voice:
- Know your genre.
- Know the genre that calls to you, the genre that wants you to be an author in its field.
- Read a lot of books, by different authors. When you see different writing styles, it would jumpstart yours.
- Lastly, practice writing the genre you want to be an expert in. If you prefer short stories, write a lot of them. When you do this frequently, you’ll surely be able to uncover what tone you write it.Have no fear, as a writer , you are allowed to write in different tones, have different voices in your head and different styles. It is all normal.
Make sure your story idea is organized before you begin writing:
When I began my writing journey, I was spontaneous. I wrote as it came to my head. I wrote without having it organized and it was fun. I thought that I would know it all as I wrote, that it would come to be anyhow and that it was better that way. But it was not. The story ended up having a lot of holes and at some point, I ended up not knowing where I stopped and where I was supposed to go on from. Now, a lot of us writers are like that. We think our story would figure itself out as we go and we find this fun.
Dear writer, please stop. Stop starting a story when you’ve not fully organized it, when the middle and end is left unknown, when the characters are left unplanned. This would lead you to a very dead end. Before you begin your story, figure it all out, from the beginning, middle and the end. Figure out the point of view you want to use, the characters names, the narrative and descriptive arc and also, the location. Figure out everything to the very spoon your character uses. When you do this, it would be difficult for you to lose your way while writing. Many people talk about how to overcome a writer’s block, but have you asked yourself if there are ways to avoid it? Ways to just prevent it from ever coming? This is a way.
Creating a Plot Outline Can Help You Get Rid of Writer’s Block.
A plot outline is a plan. It helps you put all your organized ideas together and in a chronological order. Having a plot outline would make you more organized. All those jottings and whispers in your head would be in a single place. It is a plan that would remind you of what you are writing as you go. It would keep hitting you hard and telling you. “This is what you planned. This is what you wanted.” That way you won’t miss road.
Also, having a plot outline does not mean you cannot make changes or little tweaks. It does not mean that you cannot at some point feel the need to put Tunde in the car instead of in a truck — it just helps you understand your idea in blueprint. Dear writer, create a plot outline today! There are even apps that can help you through creating your plot outline. I understand that the excitement of a new idea would send you feeling the need to begin writing immediately. Avoid it. Use that energy to create your plan. You won’t regret it.
After you have taken all the steps above, begin your writing. Write. As you write, read through your plot outline, to remind yourself of that idea. Read it like you are reading an exotic story, one that is new to you. Read it as if you are thinking it. Write that story.
Discard every self doubt
Do not ever begin to think that the idea was never good enough. That would set a writer’s block in. When you begin to doubt your idea, your mind blocks and all sort of things start flying in. Don’t do that.
As a writer you must remember that a story is of your own creation. Just like Chimamanda Adichie said during her Purple Hibiscus Workshop. “Do not think about the audience when writing, think about the story.”
Many times we writers like to think about what people might think or how they would view the story — yes, this is a good thought, but always remember that a story doesn’t have to fit into the everyday life. It doesn’t have to be regular. It is fiction. Think about the best way to put your idea out, not the best way to bend it to be pleasing to the audience. Remember that a story is told so people can see or read what you have created.
Do not write when you feel exhausted
Certainly as a writer — no, no — as a human being, you are not only occupied with one thing. You are often busy with many things and then you have other things that you have to be busy with on your mind. Then you get exhausted by one thing and you are unable to actually do the other thing. Sometimes the other thing is writing. My dear, don’t kill your self, please. Write when your mind is fresh and not worried or exhausted from something else.
Write when you feel anew. But hey, this gives you no right to become a procrastinator. No no, Aunty/Uncle — do not begin to shift your writing because you feel another day of preparation will come. Please stand up from that living room seat and write. Cast away the spirit of procrastination and face your laptop. It takes discipline to fight procrastination, nothing else. Remember this.
No one is chasing you
Stop thinking that you have to meet up with time — except of course a publisher is on your tail, then skip this, dear.If no one is on your tail to keep up, then write at a pace that suits you.
Many times we writers think we might lose something if we do. It finish this story within this time frame. Stop that. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to write that story. In the end what matters is that you do. Again I’m not saying procrastinate o. I’m saying when you feel overwhelmed, put aside your thinking and any thing that would involve you working mentally and just relax, rest, soothe yourself. Take your time.
Overthinking how you need to write fast or write this amount of words per day, could shut off your brain and boom, writer’s block. Take it slow, you’ll be fine.
Find Creative Activities that Trigger Your Creativity
As creatives, we are mostly inspired to be creative by other creative works. One time I was buying Sharwama and I was watching the guy make it. It was so random. He made it look as though he were creating something- which he was, but it was with attention, eagerness, zeal, passion. It was just wow. And I was struck. I began to imagine the ways in which I could put that scenario down in my story. It was just beautiful. I was inspired.
one time I took the bus to go to a nearby mall because I wanted to see something that would inspire me. Then I saw a conductor jump down from the bus to stop a little girl from drinking a water she saw by the road side and I was simply motivated. It could be a random thing, so just find it.
For some people it could be writing for contests, call for submissions or even writing prompts that could set them ablaze. The adrenaline when writing something short and with a deadline attached to it can create an excitement and you just feel like writing again.
I also get inspired by movies, reading books by other authors, articles about relatable concepts or even listening to music and understanding their lyrics. Just find that thing that can help you overcome your writer’s block. That thing that fuels your creativity.
Create a writing routine
As a person who would have other things to do, you can create a writing routine that aligns with your everyday routine. Fix your writings for times when you know you’d be free, less busy and willing to write.
This has worked for some people and it may likely work for you. If of course, you are determined and disciplined enough to follow it. You should give this a try. During these set times, you could also set a word count goal or just wing it, as little or as much as you write should be considered a plus.
Always remember why you began writing in the first place
- Never forget your story, the inspiration behind it and most especially, the excitement to share it.
- Re read your plot draft.
- Find movies that relate to what you’re writing.
- Find people to talk out your ideas with – this is important! Talk about your work, ask for opinions, share your ideas. Most times when writing, you could find a beta reader (if you like) the person might be your ginger! Hyping you to go on and criticizing you as well. This could motivate you to keep going.
I hope these few points help you overcome your writer’s block, or find what you’re looking for.
Dear writer, you are amazing, never forget that.
About the Author
Chiziterem Chijioke is a creative writer, editor and a student of mass communication. She has worked as a volunteer and is a member of Fresh Writers Community and currently works as an editor for Creative Writing News. She has authored four works some of which have been published on Pabpub. She is purpose driven and passionate about writing.