It doesn’t matter how well you plot, how multi-faceted your characters are, or how much time you’ve devoted to writing – at some point in your novel-writing journey you’ll sit at your computer and have nothing to type.
Congratulations, you’re experiencing writer’s block.
It happens to everyone. Either you can’t figure out what to say next or you’re so convinced that the plot is so terrible that you can’t bring yourself to type what’s racing through your brain. Whatever the reason, the outcome is the same: no words on the page.
Some people will tell you to wait for inspiration. With all due respect, that’s baloney. That works fine if you don’t care whether or not you finish the book or if you’re not on a deadline, but for those of us who want to publish more than one book in our lifetimes, we can’t wait for writer’s block to pass – we have to break through it!
There’s really only one way to defeat writer’s block, but there are several ways to prepare yourself to break through. Here are a few ways to re-stimulate the proverbial creative juices:
- Step Away from the Manuscript: close the document for a few days (not just minutes or hours). Give your brain a break from writing. You’ll probably still think about the story, but don’t let yourself write. Let it stew for a few days.
- Do Something You Love: cook a gourmet dinner, kayak around the lake, or tend your garden. It doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure it’s something that ministers to your spirit so you’ll feel refreshed when you go back to work.
- Daydream: String up your hammock or spread out a blanket. Then relax and let your mind wander. Think about your favorite people. Replay your favorite movie moments. Plan your dream vacation. Find your happy place.
- Get Inspired: pick up a new book and read it. It doesn’t have to be in your genre as long as it’s a well-written book. Don’t dissect it, though – read it for enjoyment, then go back and figure out why it worked.
There are a dozen different ways you can re-energize yourself, but did you notice the common theme? Everything involves leaving your manuscript alone for a while. Sometimes your brain just needs a break, so make sure you’re taking it. Then it’s time for the answer to writer’s block.
Are you ready?
No one expects you to write the new American classic in a first draft, so don’t put that pressure on yourself. Just write! You can edit it out later, but you can’t edit (or publish!) a book that you don’t finish. Give yourself permission to write garbage and keep writing – eventually that block will crumble and you’ll be neglecting your family and housework again as you finish your manuscript.
Stop back again in two weeks so we can talk about what to do when you finally finish your book!