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Stuck in a rut? - 8 tips to defeat writer’s block

It might seem like the end of the world, and it happens to the best of us, writer’s block, the inability to get anything out of your head and down on paper. What can you do to get over the hurdle and get back to writing? Here’s some tips get you back on track.

Every writer suffers from it at one time or another, it’s a moment everyone dreads, when your mind goes blank and you just can’t seem to produce anything. The longer you stare at a blank page, the worse it gets, and the worse it gets, the longer you stare at a blank page. It’s a vicious circle, but fortunately we have some tips to help get you writing again as soon as possible.

1Walk away

Yep, you read it right, sometimes the best way to get back to writing is to get up and not write. Looking at a blank screen can sometimes be counter productive and make you feel worse, so get up, take a break, and go outside. Do something that isn’t writing and then the next time you come back to write you should be reset.

2Write badly

Some people get stuck because they're editing in their heads before they even start writing, creating a block.

Save the editing for later, just get the words down. It won’t be your best work far from it, but at least you’ll be writing again. You can go back over it and rewrite and edit once you’re warmed up and back up to speed.

3Freewriting

If you’re not prepared to butcher your work by cracking on and writing badly, you may want to consider freewriting.

Set yourself down, give yourself a time limit, get a writing prompt, and write until the time is up. Even if none of it makes much sense and you just end up trashing the lot, it doesn’t matter. The point of the exercise is to start the wheels turning again, to unclog the blockage. The trick is to keep going, regardless, even if you don’t know what you’re going to type next.

You might even surprise yourself and come up with some great concepts that you could use in your book.

4Talk to a rubber duck

Well, it doesn’t have to be a rubber duck, it could be anything. If you’re struggling with where to go in your story, how to solve a particular problem, or you’re stuck with a particular issue, say it out aloud, it often helps if you talk to something rather than in to thin air. Maybe a rubber duck.

The idea comes from an old programmer’s trick called Rubber Duck Debugging, where you’d try to explain your code line by line to the duck, simplifying it and hitting the solution as you talk.

5Change your habits

If you always write in the same room or at the same time, try mixing it up a bit. If you normally sit at the dining table to write, try sitting in a comfy armchair, or the sofa. You could even go out and sit in a coffee shop where the background hubbub might inspire you.

If you normally write in the evening, trying brining it forward and writing before dinner, or in the morning.

Breaking your routine will normally help with kick starting your brain into action.

6Write in a different medium

Nowadays, most people write their books on a laptop, tapping away with autocorrect popping up every now and then. Changing the medium in which you write could be the key to getting you back in gear.

Try closing the lid on your laptop and picking up a pen and notebook. You could even dust off an old typewriter if you have one.

If you want to remain in the 21st century but want to step away from your keyboard, it might be a good idea to try and use dictation software on your computer or iPhone instead, and actually telling your story rather than writing it.

7Read

If you find you really can’t write, try flipping things on their head and read instead. You could go back to the beginning and re-read what you’ve written, or you could read someone else’s work.

If you do read something written by another author be sure that you don’t get things stuck in your head and lift things directly, using other work for inspiration is fine but you want to be sure you’re not plagiarising.

8Listen to music

You could listen to some music to try and reboot your brain. If you’re having trouble trying to write a particular scene, try and find a piece of music that matches the theme and tone. Classical or instrumentals would be best so that you can let the music flow through you and won’t get bogged down with the lyrics, just close your eyes and see what you can picture.

Everyone is a little different, and you may find that some things will work and some things won’t, or maybe it’s a combination of things. The most important thing is not to worry. Worrying is counter-productive and will only make things worse.

Whatever you do, make sure you do something. Sitting there, biting your nails, wondering how you’re going to start writing again is not going to help you start writing again, you need to take action which will lead to you starting writing again.

Let us know how you overcome writer's block below, and be sure to sign up to our newsletter which includes tips and tricks, and special offers for our services, including ready-made book covers and designs, eBook formatting, and promotional tools.

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