Writers block is one of those creative lulls that every writer experiences at some point in their life or their career. The most prolific writers have figured out how to navigate around this obstacle so they can keep writing. Here are some tips for writers block that can help you stay productive.
#1. Have more than one idea to work on.
James Patterson told The Daily Beast that he never gets writers block. “I always have a dozen projects that I’m working on, so if something isn’t working, I’ll just switch gears.” The goal is to always be creative, because one creative project will fuel another. If one story isn’t working for you, then go to another story. Or write a song. Or write a poem. Pretty soon you’ll find a way to get past that block to work on your original story.
#2. Get into a routine that works for you.
For Patterson, his routine is to get up around 5:30am so that he can get his house in order. He’ll write a few outlines if time allows, and then he takes a walk outside for an hour around 7am – and it’s usually around a golf course. Coming home at 8, he’ll then write for 3-4 hours. He does this “pretty much” 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year.
#3. Do what works best for you.
Writing has become a lot easier thanks to the invention of the type writer, then the word processor, and now the modern tablets and computers which let you write virtually everywhere. Yet for Patterson, he prefers a different method of writing. He uses a pencil. Patterson also says that he finds himself chewing bubble gum at least once per day and that he drinks a “fair amount” of orange soda. That works for him. You’ve got to find what works for you.
#4. Don’t be afraid to change the details of your story.
Sometimes a story isn’t working because the details of that story just aren’t right – but you’re trying to force it to be “right.” There are times when a change here or there can change everything. Patterson wrote his first Alex Cross novel based on the assumption that the character would be a woman named Alexis Cross. He got 60 pages into the story, didn’t like where it was going, so made changes to the character.
#5. Surprise is the key to keep moving.
Patterson believes that we’re always trying to find things that will either shock us or surprise us in some way. This can also be a way to get around the writers block that might be so bothersome at the moment. Have a character that does something unexpected. Or as a writer, you go out into the world and do something you normally wouldn’t do. These elements can become the inspiration for the future.
#6. There are 3 rules to follow: story, story, and story.
Patterson says that when people see your story, they should feel like it sounds really good. Your idea should be able to convey some meaning to the reader so that they’ll want to stay engaged with your writing. By focusing on the story above anything else, you can conquer writers block because the focus is always on moving forward.
#7. Eliminate the distractions that could be causing writers block.
This is ultimately why Patterson takes a walk in the morning, writes using a pencil instead of a computer, and follows a unique routine. The modern world offers a lot of distractions to writers that can keep them away from their work. Even a quick check on Facebook can wind up taking 15-20 minutes of your time. Add in the email notifications, the text messages, and the other ways we all communicate with one another and its easy to see why a writer can lose their focus. Turn off the internet if need be, find your own writing safe place, and then spend 3-4 hours there each day.
#8. When in doubt, just read.
This tip comes from Jeff Goins. If you’re a writer, then you should also be a reader. When you’re engaged in a story, you’re still tapping into the creative centers of your mind. This is because you’re using your imagination to picture what you’re reading. It’s very common to come up with a great idea when you’re exposing yourself to the great ideas of other writers.
These tips for writers block can help you stay focused and get back to work, but it’s up to you to implement them. Get into a writing routine, try to stick with it on a daily basis, and you can become very prolific with your work.
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