10 Ways to Smash Writer’s Block

Sunset chaser

I’m back and writing about what matters to me, and what matters to me is…. writing.

For the past few days, I’ve been on a writing binge, smashing out six chapters of my novel and barely sleeping. Before that, I had writer’s block for weeks and struggled to progress at all. Once, when I was talking to my cross-stitching Grandma about writer’s block, I asked her to imagine desperately wanting to cross-stitch and not being able to move her hands. She looked like she could have cried.

After two weeks of opening up the document with my half-finished novel in it, staring at it blankly, and closing it again, I said enough. So here are my top 10 ways that I used to smash writer’s block.

  1. Write
    My number one tip to beat writer’s block has always been to sit down and write something. Anything. It’s not about the content, it’s about warming up. It’s about taking yourself away from whatever had you stuck and just getting into a flow. Write down what happened to you today, what your last dream was about, a poem, a recipe, seriously, anything. Once you’re a few lines in, it’ll be so much easier to get back into it.
  2. Take a break
    If you keep staring at that screen and don’t do anything, you will go mad. Go for a walk, make yourself a snack, have a shower, tick off your basic health requirements for the day, and then start again.
  3. Get visual
    Whenever I’m stuck on a scene or a character, I break up my thinking by looking for visual inspiration. Head on over to Pinterest or Instagram and create some mood boards for the novel, for the scene, or for a character. Find people that perfectly fit how you imagine your characters or places that fit how you imagine the locations and use the reference to write a better description. Below are some examples of mood boards I made for one of my (soon to be complete) novels.
  4. Get loud
    Make a playlist to write to: I always have a one from the point of view of my characters. Sit down and read what you’ve written out loud, it’s a great way to determine if you have a distinct voice, if the narrative flows, and if the dialogue is realistic. Remember to write how people speak, even if it’s not grammatically correct. It gives them a personality and makes it more genuine.
  5. Plan
    When you draw, you start with general shapes, then add mass, then add details. Do exactly that. Start planning in one or two sentences exactly what this scene is about. Then break that down into a few dot points, then break those down, then break those down, and soon you’ll have the entire thing planned out and all you need to do is fill in the details.
  6. Collaborate
    I need to take the time to talk about the people who have helped me through this. I could not write without the help of my friends, who at any time of day are there to hear my ideas and proofread what I’ve sent them. You don’t have to be a lone wolf to be a writer, let people help you, and then give them a signed copy of the book when it’s published.
  7. Change the font or size
    This is more of an editing tip, but changing the font style or size makes you see mistakes you’ve looked over, and it changes what you’ve been staring at in despair, making it easy to start again.
  8. Read
    You’ve heard this before. It’s because it’s true. At the moment I’m drawing inspiration from one of my favourite books and musicals: Les Miserables. So when I get stuck and feel like I can’t do anything else, the logical thing to do is pick up one of the many copies Ella and I have of “The Brick” and read some of it. If you’ve devoured your favourite books a thousand times and need something new, fanfiction is a great option. It’ll have your favourite characters in different situations, which makes it easy reading.
  9. Change the scene
    If I’m stuck on one scene and can’t go on anymore, I change it around completely. Write the ending of your novel. Write a chapter somewhere in the middle. For me, a book is a puzzle that I put together piece by piece.
  10. Celebrate your own success
    Make small goals for yourself and celebrate it when you reach them. Aim to smash out 200 words today, aim to edit chapter four, aim to make a new mood board, and then let yourself be proud that you did it. As long as you’re always doing a little bit, you will succeed.

What are your best writing tips? Let me know in the comments and I’ll give you a signed copy of my book 😉

– Jess

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