As you read yesterday, I made a loose and probably inappropriate link between erectile dysfunction and writer’s block. Essentially, I pointed out that writer’s block starts somewhere, and I listed a few possible causes behind your writer’s block.
If you haven’t read that post, do it now. It’s way better than this one. It will also help this one make sense.
Anyway, since I’ve covered a few potential causes, I figured it was only fair to do my own “solutions” article. Instead of just guessing on what the issue is and giving you a bunch of subjective “quick fixes” to give yourself some inspiration, we’re going to address it directly with the potential causes from the previous article.
(Which is why you really should go and read that right now. This is the third time I’ve linked to that post so far–if you haven’t read it, it’s all your fault if this doesn’t make sense.)
Cause One: You’re afraid, doubtful, or insecure about your writing.
This is the point where we say “just do it.” If you’re scared about your own talents, feeling like you aren’t good enough, the best way to prove that you are is to keep working on it and starting to love your own work. Chances are, you’ll make mistakes and you won’t be perfect, but the only way to get over this fear is to keep practicing until you’re happy where you’re at.
Cause Two: You’re bored.
If you’ve found yourself bored with your project or with a scene in your project, it may not be a bad idea to jump ship and start working on something that inspires you again. Maybe you’ll come back to that old piece, but if not, at least you’re working on something, and it’s hopefully something you’re really excited about.
Cause Three: You’re dealing with real-world stressors.
The best way to deal with this is to cope with your real-world stressors before you even let yourself worry about the writer’s block they’ve caused. If you’re stressing out about your inability to write AND all the shit going on in your life, you’re going to have a hard time getting over any of it. Read up on some stress management solutions here. When you’ve got that figured out, try your hand at writing again.
Cause Four: You’re avoiding a painful scene.
None of us like to hurt or kill our characters. Okay, wait. Let me take that back. We may like it, in as far as how important it is to the overlying plot structure, but I’m sure I’m not the first author who cried when killing off some awesome people. If your writer’s block comes from having to tackle these emotional scenes, it helps to make sure you’re in a positive mood both before and after you start writing. Get yourself some hot cocoa and maybe a shot of peppermint schnapps and think ahead to all the great things to come after that scene is finished.
(Yes, it will still be hard.)
Cause Five: You’re nervous about writing a specific scene.
The best way to get over this anxiety is to do so much research your eyes hurt. I wrote a scene in which one character had to reset another character’s dislocated shoulder. The first thing I did was spend a day researching not only how to reset a shoulder, but how much it hurt to have a dislocated shoulder as well as how much it hurt to have it reset. I also researched how the pain moved in a resetting–was it radial? Did it hurt in one spot? Did it hurt and quickly dissipate or did it hurt for weeks after? When I was confident that I could write about this and sound like I knew what the hell I was saying, writing the scene was way easier.
Cause Six: You’re unsure where to go next.
I shouldn’t even have to say it, but I will. Outline, outline, outline. The best way to get over the writer’s block associated with not knowing where to go next is to figure that shit out before you even start writing. I know from first-hand experience when I started writing without an outline, I suffered way more writer’s block than I have ever suffered with one. There is no confusion, no trying to figure out how to get the pieces to fit together. There is only me, my characters, and my story, going along for a ride.
These tricks won’t work for everyone, but they’ve sure done a great deal for me. Another thing you can do is make sure you’re writing something every day, even if it’s just a journal (or a blog post), and make up theme music to go along with your novel (seriously, almost every Breaking Benjamin and Mumford and Sons song fits into my book somehow). That way, when you’re driving to work, you’re constantly inspired.
Hopefully this helps!