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Combating Writer's Block

My strategies and suggestions for overcoming a writer's age-old struggle in five steps.

Note: the following originated as a weekly update from my contribution to TEN16 Press's Facebook Page in the summer of 2021.

1. Acknowledge and accept that writer's block happens.

Very, very few authors are immune to having a bad day. For each session of tremendous creative output, odds are that you will have to grapple with one that throws out the road block. Rather than interpreting this as a poor reflection on yourself or your story, it's healthier to perceive this as the stanza break, the fermata in your symphony. Having this more wholesome understanding definition of writer's block will naturally enable you to minimize it and not overthink it. Take a break and a sip of your favorite beverage; you'll be out of it soon.

2. Set aside scheduled, or better yet, daily writing time.

Good habits need nurturing. Even if you are in the middle of a period of writer's block, you'll likely find a way to use the time productively, even if it's an auxiliary to the actual writing of your draft. Maybe you'll start working on another story or project, or re-read a section you've already written to make some edits. Staying in a routine will keep your brain in the creative mindset and help prevent writer's block from returning too frequently.

3. Always chase inspiration.

Sometimes, your mind may freeze up on whatever it was you were working on only for the gears to begin rapidly turning for something altogether different. Whether the inspiration is at a different point in your narrative or even something unrelated, it's often best to write whatever is coming naturally! When all is said and done, you may end up incorporating it into your story anyway.

4. For a serious case, it might be time to pick up a book and start reading again.

It doesn't matter if it's a book from your favorite author or something brand new. Reading someone else's writing can refresh your perspective for story, dialogue, style, or whatever might have been the root cause of the most recent writer's block. The raw therapy of reading instead of writing can do wonders for reminding us of the basic reason for our writing, whether it is to entertain, educate, inspire --- whatever it may be!

5. Don't neglect the body's connection to the writing process.

It's not all in the brain, at the end of the day. If nothing is coming to 'mind,' it's probably time to attend to your body instead. Consider some exercise: a walk, jog, run, bike ride, swim, visit to the gym . . . something to get the blood flowing. Whether you have successfully reminded yourself of why you avoid exercise or are feeling great on an endorphin high, returning to your writing post will feel like a better prospect than sitting there in frustration.


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