Conquering the Writer's Block

One of the greatest literary pains is the infamous writer’s block. It’s a genuinely suffocating experience. Time freezes. Your mind dissolves into an unforgiving void. That stark, blank page stares back at you with blinding intensity. All the while, the cursor on your monitor pulsates, resembling a ticking time bomb more than an outlet for your muse. 

When writer’s block hits, you must hit back even harder. For the last few years, I’ve had a Post-It hanging from the corner of my monitor which reads:


So, here are several tricks I use to work through those terrible creative droughts. (Naturally, I have expanded each bullet point on my 4x4 Post-It.)

An important step to conquering writer’s block is revamping your creativity. These first few points focus on stimulating inspiration:

1) READ.
Pull out a novel or inspiring piece of writing. Allow the author’s words to wash over your senses—become completely absorbed. Start an “inspirations journal;” while reading, jot down passages you find especially enlightening. Reading not only encourages new ideas, but exercises your creative and technical muscles.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” – Stephen King

Playing evocative background music is an excellent technique to get those creative juices flowing. Choose pieces which complement the mood you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you’re writing a horror scene, listen to something spooky. If you’re writing an action scene, however, op for something more fast-paced—something that will get your blood pumping and adrenaline charged.

Design several playlists, and categorize each one by mood/tone. I have personally found that instrumentals work best for this, since lyrics can be intrusive and distracting. You can find good material on YouTube (for example, you might search “spooky ambiance” or “sad violin music”). Movie soundtracks also work very well. Here are a few of my go to soundtracks: Fluke, Game of Thrones (seasons 1-3), and DragonHeart, and music from the Final Fantasy videogame series. 

Are you writing an epic medieval piece? Then surround yourself with material from that era. Print out images and hang them on your walls in the form of an inspiring collage. Research actual persons from the period in-depth. Watch films set during medieval times. Listen to popular music of the era. Check out reenactments. Whatever your topic is, immerse yourself completely.

Lie in bed, close your eyes, and envision yourself as one of your characters. Place yourself in his shoes. Think like he would think. Reflect on his memories as if they were your own—and relate them to your personal experiences. Then attempt to write as if you were that character. This strategy emulates “method acting,” where actors fully immerse themes in their character’s psyche.  

These next few points concentrate on practical exercises and techniques:

There’s something special about writing with a pen and paper. Not only is the act itself often liberating, but you’re less likely to get trapped in “editing-mode.” If you’re struggling with a particular scene or project, try writing by hand and in a new location (for example, if you usually work at your desk, try writing outdoors or while lounging on a comfy sofa chair).

This exercise works best in conjunction with points 4 and 5. Pull out a sheet of paper, select a topic (or scene), set your timer, and write non-stop for 15 minutes. Don’t edit. Don’t cross out sentences. Don’t lift your pen. Concentrate solely on your thoughts and feelings. Allow them to fearlessly pour from your fingertips for 15 minutes straight.

Tons of writing tools are available—and many are designed to help you organize your thoughts, plan projects, and reach that daily word count. (Just be careful not to get sucked into gimmicky software.) Here are a couple of my personal favorites:

Scrivener – A topnotch word processor that allows you to intricately plot your projects, organize research, and much more. I can’t recommend this one enough.

Evernote – Organize your research by storing everything (and I mean everything) in one location. It syncs your notes to the server, allowing you access from anywhere and on any device. As a historical fiction writer, I can’t imagine living without Evernote.

yWriter – Very similar to Scrivener, though much more simplistic. Best of all? It’s totally free.

Set a daily word count and stick to it. What seems like uninspired dreck today can (and will) be transformed tomorrow. Just keep writing and always remember:

“The enemy is not the badly written page; it is the empty page. The great advantage of a badly written page is that it can be rewritten. It can be improved. A blank page is zero. In fact, it’s worse than zero, because it represents territory you’re afraid, unwilling, or too lazy to explore.” - Timothy Hallinan

Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and high school sweetheart of ten years. She enjoys writing dark, edgy romances that challenge the reader’s emotions and examine the redeeming power of love.
Imagining stories and characters has been Rachel’s passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mom would jot them down for her. She has a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether sculpting the protagonist or antagonist, she always ensures that every character is given a soul.
Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words. THE FROST OF SPRINGTIME, her edgy historical romance novel set in revolutionary France, is available now!

Amazon Page for THE FROST OF SPRINGTIME – Prime Members read the Kindle Edition for FREE



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