7 Cures for Writers Block.
With the second week of Nanowrimo firmly underway I thought it would be useful to share my tips for getting stuck. Although I’ve called this Cures for Writers Block I’m not convinced it exists. My moments of pondering while writing normally happen when I’m not sure what to write next. Or when I am far too tired.
Writer’s block is a myth.
There you’re cured. Writing is miraculously easy once more. Sadly writing doesn’t work like this and there are times when the words flow and times when they don’t. I’ve learnt that I need mental and physical space to help my words flow. Without this space life becomes squeezed and the writing becomes difficult like swimming through treacle. I experienced this in the summer and my word counts shrivelled to a mere 1000 a week.
Since then I’ve made some changes in my life, notably reducing my hours at one of my day jobs. Giving me more time to keep on top of mundane tasks such as housework and most importantly time with my family.
Cure 1: Find out what makes your words flow.
Identify the things that you enjoy in your life. Family, books, good music, all the things that make you happy. Looking back at the times when the words haven’t flowed its normally been because I wasn’t spending enough time doing the things that made me happy.
“But Rosie, I really love writing. That’s what makes me happy”
I can hear you protesting already. People need balance in their lives. I believe this is especially true for writers who would spend all day alone reading books and writing. Fresh air and real people can be the best medicine and provide inspiration for story ideas.
Cure 2: Exercise.
During my writing days I have to leave the house at specific intervals, to pick up the children from school or to go shopping. I walk everywhere. Often while I’m walking about a solution to a plot problem will emerge. This happens when I run or cycle too. While exercising my body is occupied with moving forward and the worrying part of my mind is concerned with stopping me falling over or getting run over.
My subconscious is then given free rein to explore different options. As I look at a pretty flower or cycle through the rain, solutions to appear fully formed in my mind. Then I just have to remember to write them down when I get home.
Cure 3: Take regular breaks
This morning I have the entire morning to write. I should be adding words to my Nanowrimo effort, but I wanted to share my tips with you all. My plan is to write this until 9.45 am then have a break and move onto Nanowrimo land. For the rest of the morning I will be writing for twenty and then have a five or ten minute break. By concentrating hard for twenty minutes I know I can get three hundred or so words written. I should achieve my daily target when its time to collect my daughter at midday.
I suppose this is similar to interval training in running. Cycles of pushing and recovery that will make me a stronger writer in the long term.
Cure 4: Do some housework.
During my breaks this morning I will probably try and get my housework under control. I know I write better in a clean and tidy house. Like exercise the process of cleaning frees my mind to think about the immediate problems in my writing. Solutions often come while sorting through children’s socks or scrubbing the shower walls. (not at the same time)
My husband likes a clean house and he is happier when the washing isn’t piling up and he has clean clothes to wear.
Cure 5: Sleep
If we are tired and exhausted our brains do not function. As a writer I need my brain, it tells my fingers what to write. When I am tired the words do not flow. I try to get a good night’s sleep every night. Sometimes my shifts don’t allow this so I might have a little nap in the afternoon before starting to write again.
Sleep also gives my deep unconscious time to process the story so far and work out what needs to happen next. Sometimes I wonder if I do all my planning in my sleep and the rest of the day is about letting the subconscious get the story out and on paper.
Cure 6: Focus.
Although many of these cures are about taking regular breaks and balance, the other side of this is properly focusing when writing. One of the things I love about Nanowrimo are the word sprints or word wars. These are organised on Twitter or by local Nanowrimo groups. Someone will set a time for the sprint to start, say :05 or five past the hour; then they’ll say how long the sprint it for. When the clock reaches that point everyone concentrates on writing and just writing for the duration. At the end of the time everyone submits their word count and there are congratulations all round.
Cure 7: Just keep writing.
I got through the summer by keeping writing. I had to adjust my word count down considerably, no 1667 words a day for me then. Some days I was lucky if I managed 200 words. But I kept on coming back to the manuscript, I kept on writing. Every day or as near to it as I could manage.
Even writing a couple of sentences a day is better than nothing. Eventually the word counts will creep up again and the flow will return. Stay with it and keep going.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post. I didn’t quite stick with my deadline but went over by a few minutes. Have you got any tips for keeping the words flowing? *
Are you doing NanoWrimo? If you’d like to follow my journey I’ve started a Nanowrimo 2014 diary on Wattpad. Click here