Today’s the day. You’re going to start writing that story that’s been festering in your head, desperate to get onto the paper. It’s the piece that is going to get you to the top. You sit down to your computer, your hot drink of choice beside you, open your a new document and… Nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. You got as far as the name of the protagonist before things went pear shaped.
After an hour of sitting, staring at the page, your hot drink gone and mourned, the truth cannot be denied any longer. You have Writer’s Block.
For a writer, the dreaded Block is something that can be debilitating. It can last for a day or a week or, even more horrifying, months. It isn’t that you have lack of ideas—though that can certainly be an aspect—but everything that you want to say refuses to be put into words.
Writer’s Block can mean the end of a writer. The project gets put on the shelf until the day that the words start coming again. Eventually, though, it just gets forgotten. You move on to other hobbies or work, trying to either find inspiration from life or doing your best to forget the project that you have shuttered away.
This doesn’t have to be the end. You can get over Writer's Block.
There are a few tricks to dealing with Writer’s Block that any writer, no matter the skill level, can follow. Mostly, though, do not get discouraged.
1. Write Through It
Yeah, okay. Writing is probably the last thing that you want to do when in the midst of a Block, but it’s absolutely necessary. I’m not telling you to write your project and then go back and wince at the result. Get some creative writing prompts. Pick a short story and see where that takes you. Try free form poetry.
It doesn’t matter what you write. It doesn’t matter how rotten you think your writing is, as long as you write. WRITE EVERY DAY. The more you do this, the harder it will be for a Block to take you. You’ll get more and more comfortable with just putting words on the page, your mind and your hands working together.
2. Try an Outline
You have your heart set on this project? You have a deadline coming up and don’t have time for weeks of writing other things? That’s okay.
If you have an idea, try creating an outline, just as you did in your high-school English class. Start with the beginning—what’s the premise? who are your characters?—and move on to the middle. You don’t have to be detailed. With a Block, sometimes using fewer words is better. But if you can get the outline onto paper, you’ve already accomplished a lot.
Once you’ve created a general outline, go back and fill in some of the details. What do your characters look like? Where do they live? Describe the city or town or backwoods hovel that they built with their own hands. Just keep filling in details, over and over and over again. Eventually you’ll find yourself actually writing the story because there just isn’t any other way to get the information you want.
3. Use a Different Medium
No, you’re not a sketch artist. I’m not asking you to pick up a pencil and draw your characters just like daVinci would. That would be very cool, but ultimately unhelpful.
What I am asking you to do, though, is take your idea and put it into different forms. If you want to write a short story, put the story into poetry form. Maybe not just poetry, but a ballad. You want to create a novel? Write a short story. Poetry is more your game? Alright, fine, how would you put your poem in a screen play?
The more ways that you can fiddle with your idea, the more you will know your idea. It will become your best friend because you’ll know everything about it and it will know you (metaphorically, of course). By the time that you know your idea inside out, writing about it in the form that you want will be much, much easier.
Now, Writer’s Block can be a terrible disease that hits you, just like the flu. But it doesn’t have to be. Think of these exercises as getting inoculated. You can get over Writer's Block. The big bad Writer’s Block will take one look at you and run far, far away.