Have you lost your book writing inspiration? Have you found yourself staring at a blinking cursor regularly? Not a single appropriate word has come to mind, and you sit staring at the blank screen in front of you. You might find yourself wondering what the problem is? Has your brain just quit working? The frustration forming in your creative mind quickly turns into a distracting headache. As the aching worsens, you can almost feel your creativity being sapped from you. Maybe you’re tired and just need a rest…or maybe you have a classic case of “writer’s block.”
While there are some people who claim it doesn’t exist, most writer’s know better because they have all experienced it at some point in their career. By far the most irritating symptom is that the more effort you put into finding inspiration, the more it seems to escape you. The good news is that every writer ends up in your shoes and it hardly means you will never write again. Take a few minutes and try some of the following ideas to refresh your brain and get back on track.
1. Take a Break (You Need One)
As I mentioned above, thinking about your writing too hard will only make things worse. Sometimes the best way to fix this is to step away from your keyboard and focus your mental energies on something else, even if it’s completely unrelated. Just like your computer needs to be restarted every so often to maintain performance, your brain needs to be unplugged now and again as well.
There are countless ways you can clear your head.. Try something that requires some physical activity like taking a walk or getting outside. Activities that demand different mental skills are also worth exploring, such as cooking a new dish.
2. Get Some Social Interaction
The thought of how your writing will be judged by your readers can quickly create anxiety and that makes writing more difficult, especially when you’re low on ideas. Shift your mind from your audience to your support network of friends and family. Reach out to someone who is supportive of your work and invite them to get out and do something with you. This is a great way to let yourself breathe and come back to your writing with a fresh perspective.
3. Write a Review
An excellent way to get rid of writer’s block is to write reviews. Write a review of other writers’ work. Reviews are an excellent way to get things back on track. I started writing two reviews a day of books I’ve been reading. It helps pull me away from my own writing and get a fresher perspective when I return.
4. Take an Entertaining Break
Revisit your favorite music, art or films. This will recharge your brain and rekindle you inspiration. Don’t underestimate the value of exposing yourself to the artistic creations of others, regardless of the form it takes. It’s not only inspiring, but it feels like an indulgence since you enjoy these things already.
5. Take Care of Yourself
As writers, we slip into the habit of neglecting our own needs on occasion. Your imaginative brain is the most important muscle in your body. While it’s important to use that muscle often, it still needs some rest and nourishment if you want it to work to your advantage.
Ask yourself if you’ve been getting enough sleep lately? If not, you may want to try restructuring your sleep schedule to ensure you are getting enough hours each night. If you feel that you don’t need more sleep at night, try to master the art of the power nap. These usually last around 20 minutes or so and can have a huge impact on your productivity. Try this and you will be surprised at the difference you see.
7. Release Your Emotions
Have you been stifling your emotions lately? Bottled up feelings can put a serious cramp in the quality of your work. As writers, we must be passionate and sometimes we are holding onto mental energies that poison our creativity. If you feel like stress has been building up for a while, try getting some exercise to release some of the tension.
An unfortunate side effect of bottling emotions is that it can result in very dry, boring writing. Don’t let your negative emotions hold your passion hostage because it will show in your writing.
8. Try a Change of Scenery
Sometimes we need to change our surroundings to reboot our inspiration. Try visiting your favorite coffee shop or park — anything that gets you out of your normal workspace. Consider leaving your laptop at home or in the office for this little escape. Try doing it the old school way, with pen and paper.
9. Write Letters You Don’t Plan on Ever Sending
When was the last time you wrote anything for yourself or just for fun? Chances are, it’s been too long. Writers usually have their audience in mind when they start typing away, so you might need to take some time to sit down and write something just for fun.
Write a letter to someone you know or even someone you’ve never met. You don’t have to send it, just write it and enjoy doing it knowing that only your eyes will see it. Write about whatever comes to mind that you feel strongly about.
10. Stop Pre-Planning
While planning your book is important, try to limit the pre-planning. Some of the best writing ever done was the result of acting on spontaneity, not everything requires extensive planning. If you get an itch to write something — anything, then just go with it. You may keep it, or you can always trash it. Just give yourself some room to be flexible.
11. Change Up Your Routine
In school, we are taught that daily routines are healthy life habits to have. This can certainly be true for writers, as we have seen in the case of Stephen King and Haruki Murakami, who are both known for adhering to rigid writing regimens. While there is definitely something to be said for having some structure and discipline, going overboard with these can begin to erode the level of energy in your writing over time.
You may just need a small change in your writing habits to fix this. Try starting at a different time of day or even waiting until the right mood comes along before you make another attempt. Just put the time to good use, even if you do something unrelated to writing. As long as it stimulates your brain, it will eventually lead you back to your book writing.
12. Spend Some Time Out of the Office
Being constantly trapped in your work environment is toxic for anyone, no matter how introverted you are or how much you enjoy your solitude. It’s very easy for writers and authors to lose track of how much time they spend alone in the same space, but this can really hurt your abilities to write after a while. Make a point of going out a few times over the next week. When you run into problems with your writing, close the laptop and think of a place you can take it with you that requires leaving your office.
Anywhere with a comforting and familiar atmosphere will work fine. And don’t forget that it’s okay if you don’t end up writing anything when you visit that place — it doesn’t have to happen right then.
No great author has ever existed who didn’t consume books regularly. Don’t forget to make an occasional visit to a local bookstore or a library. They are great places to get comfortable with a cup of coffee or tea and begin reading a new book by your favorite author or someone you’ve never read before. Visiting another author’s world is sometimes the perfect medicine for creating one of your own.
14. Let Your Fingers Rest
Writers get plenty of exercise for their hands and fingers since they are always typing or writing by hand. Is the rest of your body getting enough of a workout? When was the last time you got up to stretch? Could the house use some cleaning, maybe?
Sitting still all day can actually be very damaging to your body and your overall health — it’s a fact. Make it a regular habit to take stretching breaks and next time you need to run to Starbucks, make yourself walk or ride a bike instead of driving.
15. Browse Through Past Projects
When was the last time you sat down and read some of your previous work? Browse through your portfolio and pick out a few of your favorite pieces of writing from the past. Sit down and read through them to remind yourself of ideas you meant to expand on but never got around to. You may even be surprised to find that something you wrote in the past is no longer how you feel. Take the opportunity to re-explore a topic you’ve written about in the past and update your viewpoint.
16. Don’t be a Perfectionist
Most writers are natural perfectionists. Striving to write well is never a bad idea, but don’t let it stand in the way of writing anything at all. Not everything you write has to be 100% perfect. To err is human and to write is better than to not write at all. Set aside 30 minutes to write non-stop about whatever comes to mind without paying any attention to the rules.
17. Skip Around
Perhaps you’re trying to start the beginning of a new chapter in your book, but the topic is one you are dreading and not looking forward to? There is an easy fix for this one: just set it aside for now and skip to a chapter that is easier for you to write. Don’t let the tough chapters stall the progress of your entire book. Save the challenging ones for later if you’re struggling to get started.
18. Look to Your Social Circle for Inspiration
Irresponsible use of social media is generally a wasteful use of your time. However, smart interaction among your social sphere can be a great source of inspiration if you’re stuck with a case of writer’s block. Gravitate towards those friends who are most known for posting content that provokes deeper thoughts. Comment and engage and inspiration often follows.
19. Try a Mashup
“All creative work builds on what came before,”- Austin Kleon. There are no original thoughts left. If you’ve thought it, someone else surely has before you. Probably many people. Find a piece of writing that you connect with and take it in a different direction, adding your own creative flair to it and see where it leads you.
20. Travel Back in Time
Pick a favorite book that you haven’t read in a long while. Read through it from cover to cover. Afterward, write your reactions to it and compare it to how you felt after the first reading. The contrast will be greater the longer it’s been between reads.
Jot down parts that you can create a story around and make comparisons. Argue for or against a point that the author makes. Find a place in your book for these useful observations.
21. Listen to Your Inner Critic
“A good producer and a great producer have the same number of ideas – some good, some great. But a great producer will know the difference.” – Mike Monday.
Sometimes we need to be more relaxed about writing to make it possible in the first place. Just remember that there is a difference between what we write for ourselves and what we write to publish. Published work should always be subject to the approval of our inner critic. You can trust them not to allow anything sub-quality to end up in your book.
Being a writer, you have to accept both good and bad days. However, with a fresh and open mind, you own can minimize the bad days.