By Micah Goodman
Whether you are a seasoned writer or just starting out, everyone experiences times when it is difficult to write. Sometimes this experience lasts for days. But perhaps the worst times are when writer’s block happens in the middle of writing. As Verlyn Klinkenborg claims, “[Writing] is hard work, and it’s been hard work for everyone all along.“ (Several Short Sentences about Writing, 68). To help combat your writer’s block, here are five suggestions that I do to help me get back to writing.
1. Walk Away (and Come Back)
If you are struggling with the wording, the rhythm, or the grammar of a sentence walking away is sometimes the best thing to do. What I like to do is find a small task that can be completed quickly, and then I can try to write again. I usually wash some dishes, take out the trash, clean my room, watch a short video, or take a walk around my neighborhood. These tasks let me take my mind off of writing and feel a small sense of accomplishment so that I can get back to writing. The second part of this point is the hardest to do. It is very easy to walk away and give up on writing for the day, but coming back to continue writing is the most important step.
2. Talk to Other People
Writing is not a solitary act. Or to state it positively, writing is collaborative. When you’re stuck don’t be afraid to ask other people to help get you un-stuck. If you fall in a hole, your friends would help you get out (or at least I hope they would). Think of your writer’s block as a hole, then, whether you are talking with your friends about your writing, or just chatting with them, they are still helping you get out.
3. Start Something New
Like point one, this should be something short. Try your hand at some flash fiction, or if you’re like me, write a terrible poem. Paradoxically, something that helps get your mind off of the problem will most often cause your mind to fix it.
4. Hit the Books or the Internet
Just like point two, you’re not alone if you have a computer or a book handy. There are millions of people all over the world who write regularly. Look for help from these writers, whether that means googling suggestions on story, or reading a well-known author’s book on their writing process. There are two ways to learn about writing. One is by actually writing, and the other is by reading about writing, or watching, or listening, or googling.
5. Work on Parts of Your Project that don’t Require Writing
I mainly work in the fiction genre of fantasy. So creating maps, working on linguistics, or thinking about the interworking of a city are just a few of the things that I can do that shape my project and don’t require writing. The main aspect of a writing project that all writers can work on without writing is characterization. This reflection means thinking about the experiences and entities that have shaped, are shaping, and will shape your characters.
Hopefully, if you’re struggling with writer’s block, then you’ve found something here that you can do to help you start writing again. The important thing to remember is that there is not one way to writer, or in this case, to combat writer’s block. You have to discover what works best for you.
Micah is the Treasurer of SLAM. He is a senior English major at The College at Southeastern with plans to pursue graduate education in literature or English. Micah enjoys creative writing, reading, video games, and board games.