The Different Types of Writer’s Block
Ever find yourself staring at a blank sheet of paper or empty computer screen without the ability to produce work? Writer’s block is an-too-common phenomenon that nearly every author will experience during his or her life.
The first step toward overcoming it is understanding why you’ve hit a road block.
One of the most common types of writer’s block occurs when you are unable to write those first few sentences. Thankfully, there’s a quick and easy solution to this type of writer’s block: skip the intro and begin writing in the middle.
It may seem a little awkward trying to write a chapter or section without an introduction, but you can always go back to add those missing sentences at a later time — when you aren’t stumped. You’ll often have an easier time writing an intro after you’ve written several paragraphs of the body.
If you can’t even start in the middle, just start writing down anything — quotes you might use, people you might interview, interesting facts about your topic or book’s setting — anything to just get words on that blank screen!
Another common type of writer’s block occurs when you second guess yourself. If you are a perfectionist (which many authors are), you may go back over your work, deleting and changing it dozens of times. But when you second guess and micro-manage your writing, you stymie your creativity.
Try to write whatever comes to mind and don’t worry if it’s not perfect. There’s a time and place for editing, but it doesn’t have to be in the first draft. No one’s first draft is great, or even good most of the time!
You’re ticking along just fine and then you can’t get this one paragraph or section worked out. You have a good idea of what you want to write, but it keeps coming out wrong. You’re stuck on this one section and now your whole book has hit a wall.
This is a good time to take a walk or go do something totally non-writing related for a while. Come back to the problematic section with fresh eyes. You might be surprised by how easy is it write after seeing things from a new perspective. You might even decide the reason you were struggling is because it didn’t belong in this part of your book or even in your book at all.
Uh oh. You deviated from your outline a while back and now you’re not sure where to go from here. Or you jumped right in without an outline and now your book has wandered the globe with no real focus. This is a tough one, because if you truly have ended up in place you’re not sure how to get out of, you may need to do some serious rewriting.
Set the project aside and take a walk or even a little writing sabbatical for a few days. Review your outline and decide was the outline on the wrong track or the book? Can you save off the deviated section of the book for another project later? Can you figure out where the wrong turn was and begin a rewrite? Or was the deviation an act of brilliance and can you find a way to continue on this new path?
You started out all gung-ho and jumped into your writing project. You thought about when you weren’t working on it and couldn’t wait to get back to it. But now…now you’re just not that interested. You sit down to write but you can’t stay focused, and keep popping out to social media or give in to other distractions.
Take a break and think hard about why you’ve lost your motivation. We all need a little help getting motivated occasionally, but if you feel it’s more than that, maybe you need to reevaluate your book’s topic. Why are you bored — is the book’s topic too narrow or has your writing gone flat? Give it some time and then come back to it with fresh eyes and see if it’s the book itself, or you just needed a break!
How do you overcome writer’s block? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image attribution: https://bit.ly/1NQ7kIX