There are times that you lose your creative momentum and it seems like you couldn’t come up with a novel idea if it popped up in front of you let alone the next word or sentence of your manuscript. Remember that this is only temporary - an ‘incubation period’ of sorts. Sometimes, the mind just needs time to process what has been written before it can move on. In fact, hitting a blind spot in your writing may be a sign that you need to put the book aside for a while and not try to force yourself. But how can you tell if and when this ‘incubation period’ has gone on for too long? Well, you will know, believe me! Rather than feeling like you must get some writing done, because deadlines are nearing, you will once again get that creative nudge. You will feel refreshed and anxious to get going on your creation. What if you just can’t seem to pull out of your writer’s block? Is it because you’re really not committed at this time? Are you too wrapped up in other things, like watching television or going out with friends? You might just have to break some of your normal habits, if you want to be successful. There are also various ways to get those creative juices going again.
1) Think about why you are blocked. Has your story line gone off into left field? Maybe, you need to re-think this. Has one of your characters become much too important than another? Perhaps, you could change this. Is your work turning out dry and dull? Is it time to pull out that Thesaurus to liven it up? Maybe, your story line has gone awry and just doesn’t make sense. This, of course, will take some chopping, editing and re-writing, which can be painful. You’ve already put so much time and effort into it that it’s hard to just dispose of sections, but you must if you expect to move on. While you may have initially thought one idea was a very good one, it just might not be so. The most you can do here is to learn from the experience. It in no way means that you are a poor writer or lacking in talent. Try to maintain a positive attitude about yourself and your book, no matter how difficult the writing might get at times.
2) There is also that nasty thing called ‘life’ that can get in the way of your time and creativity. If your life is already fast-paced, with little leisure time to spare, it is unlikely that you will be successful at writing a book. You need to ensure that your environment is conducive to your success. If there is someone in your life that causes you stress, this will greatly influence your ability to be creative. It might be necessary to keep that person at bay for a while, in order to achieve your dream of being an author. This does not mean eliminating them entirely (however, this might be a good idea!). Just ensure that you have a quiet, relaxing environment in which to write. Set up your ‘space’ in such a way that you will not be distracted from your work. In other words, don’t try writing with the television or radio on. Parents of young children should wait till the little ones’ bedtime, if they can’t find an area of solace during the day. Any kind of noise or stress will just make writing a headache, instead of an inspiring and rewarding pursuit.
3) If you have writer’s block you might just need to center yourself. Such things as meditating, going for a walk or bouncing ideas off a friend might help. If you are not mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically at ease, you’re bound to have problems expressing yourself. It’s best that you sort out any personal problems you might have first.
4) Meditating, as mentioned earlier, can provide some amazing benefits to body, mind and soul. In this instance, however, you can get into the meditative state and then roll out your characters and story line in your mind. Let your imagination flow and you will find that you can easily change anything you don’t feel is right.
5) Your last resort might be to hire a professional creativity coach. A creativity coach will analyze your situation and work with you to find solutions that can put you back on the happy track of writing freely again. A coach can help you decide which of the approaches above — or many others they may have created themselves — might work in your situation. One such site that offers this service is: www.creativitycoachingassociation.com. Since I have never used this, however, I don’t know what kind of cost would be involved. But before you make that kind of commitment, there is another possible solution.
Getting writer’s block is no picnic, but there are some fun exercises you can do to get your imagination rolling again. The great 1900’s French writer, Marcel Proust is most well known for his novel Remembrance of Things Past. He used a style of writing called ‘stream of consciousness’ to get motivated. Using this method, Proust would pick a simple topic and just let his feelings on it flow like river. In fact, he once wrote 30 pages to describe the simple act of rolling over in bed at night.
The theory behind Proust’s ‘stream of consciousness’ writing was to just release your mind from any rules of writing or particular desire to be brilliant, so it can let new ideas stream forth. There is no inner critic to dampen your creative work. Thoughts and ideas are just unleashed and written out as they come into your consciousness.
Finally, some people believe fear is at the root of writer’s block – fear of acceptance (or not) and believe it or not, even fear of success. Don’t let fear stop you from accomplishing your goal, which is to get your manuscript written, rewritten, edited and off to a publisher.
There are some fun exercises you can do to get your imagination rolling again. These are called creative writing prompts and the idea is to just go with it and let your imagination soar. For instance:
A) Please choose one of the following and write for 10 minutes.
1) Write about a habit you have that is difficult to break.
2) Begin a story with, “There was once a chance I didn’t take.”
3) Use these words in your story: “setback, money, finances, health, friends, success.”
4) Use these words in your story: “funny, falling, fabulous, famous, fruit.”
5) Use the story line that you wake up and look in the mirror, but the face looking back isn’t yours.
B) Choose a picture from your on or off-line photo albums. It could be of a person, place or thing, but whatever you decide sit down and write a story based on that photo. Write, write, write – at least 250 words.
C) For this writing exercise, choose one of the follow prompts and write for 10 minutes.
1) Use the first line of a nursery rhyme to start your story.
2) Use the following to start your story: His face grimaced and his body trembled as he clutched the railing.
3) Use the words “silence is golden” to create your story.
4) Describe a place you remember from your childhood.
5) Begin with the line: “It was wrapped in bright red paper, with a shiny, white bow.”
6) Write about the color of your heart.
D) Choose one of the following writing styles:
1) Narration: write about a happy event when you did something enjoyable as a child.
2) Persuasion: write about persuading someone to buy something you have that is valuable. You really need the money for something important.
3) Explanation: write about why you got to work late.
4) Description with a twist: write about how it feels to have a tarantula crawling up your arm.
5) Imagination: write about what it’s like to drink a potion that enables you to change your shape into anything you wish for 24 hours.
E) Please choose one of the following and write for 10 minutes:
6) Write about your hero or the nicest person you’ve ever known.
7) Begin a story with, “It was one summer I will never forget.”
8) Use these words in your story: “pineapple, pillow, funny, celebration, hockey.”
9) Write about the best movie you ever saw.
10) Use a story line based on an actual murder.