By Courtney Willis
No lie, as I’m sitting down to write this article, I couldn’t think of what to write. There is just something very intimidating about a blank white page, waiting for you to fill it with important and meaningful words.
I’ve been writing fiction for over 15 years. And I don’t say that to brag or flaunt my experience. I’m just saying that, at least for me, it never really gets any easier. Some people say writer’s block doesn’t exist: they call it fear, laziness, lack of inspiration, etc. Whatever you call it, I just wanted to talk about things that have helped me in the past, particularly with writing fiction. No new revelations or things you haven’t heard before, but if you’re in a writing rut, I hope one of these things might work for you.
1. Change your surroundings
After graduating college, I got into a serious writing funk. I was living with my parents for a time, I had a day job, but my writing progress was like a snail stuck in peanut butter. It wasn’t until I decided to move out on my own – new city, new job, new living space – that my writing finally began to improve.
Not every change has to be as dramatic as moving across the country. It could be something as simple as rearranging your room, or trying out writing in a park, library, or coffee shop. But when you’re experiencing writer’s block, it can’t hurt to try something new.
2. Take a break
Tread carefully here. If you’re always on a break, you’ll never get anything done. But most of the time, one of these things can be like my reset button and get me back on the right page (pun intended): go on a walk, take a nap, or take a shower. If you like being active, taking a walk or a run, or working out can get your blood pumping and your mind open again. Napping is great too, just don’t forget to get back to work. And really, who doesn’t get their best ideas in the shower?!
3. Talk it out
This one also needs to be taken lightly, because if you’re always talking about your writing project just to get praise and spread interest, you’ll never produce anything if you’re never actually writing. But there are some exceptions.
I was recently visiting with one of my best friends, telling her about the story I’ve set in San Diego (it’s where we met, so I knew she could help me). I had started it last year, written the first five chapters, and then hit a wall. Something wasn’t right within the story, but I couldn’t figure it out because I was too involved. Thankfully, her outside perspective told me exactly what my problem was, and it was a green light for the rest of the story. I love it when that happens.
I also have lots of friends from college that I could turn to when in a writing drought. As an English major, I went through a lot of workshops, with people whose opinions I value and who can see where I want a story to go. Joining a critique group can have this same result. These people can help with things in your story that you can’t see. Trusted friends, whether they’re writers or not, can be influential to the shaping of your story when you’re not sure where to take it next.
4. Get inspired
You’re a writer because it’s your passion. There’s something about story-telling that you love. The characters, the setting, the plot… what is it? Something inspired you to start writing, so maybe you need to delve back into that for a minute. So read a book. Watch some TV. Go see a movie. Get back to that initial spark of interest, and see if that doesn’t lead you back to what you love about writing so much.
5. Be kind to yourself
Writing is hard. Anyone who says otherwise has never tried it. It takes a lot of mental and emotional anguish, but it can be physically draining too. Ernest Hemingway even said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” How encouraging, right? Just know that every writer has their bad days, and no one writes a perfect first draft. So take a day off. Take a bubble bath. Treat yourself to dinner. Remember you have value even if your writing sucks.
Try one or all of these things, but don’t forget that writers write. So eventually you’ll need square your shoulders, put on your big girl pants, and get your butt in that chair to write. Good luck. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Who are my fiction writing friends? What are you currently working on? How do you get through writer’s block? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time, book enthusiasts <3