Sometimes – especially when I’m tired – I find it really hard to write anything. Don’t get me wrong, my usual approach to feeling blocked on something is to go and work on something else that’s demanding less brainpower just then, but sometimes it’s more of a general lethargy that makes writing feel like I’m pushing the pen through treacle (figuratively – I tend to write on the computer for speed’s sake and to save typing things up).
Today is, apparently, one of those days, and since yesterday was one of those days too, I thought I’d better try to do something about it. This blog post is attempt one to get myself writing something (see above RE: write something else), and so far I am managing to put words on the screen. That’s a start, but it’s not getting me any closer to having another anthology story finished, or even properly started. In fact, it’s not even getting any fanfiction ideas going. So I thought I’d talk you – and myself – through some tricks I usually try to get the creative juices flowing.
One approach is to get some actual juice flowing… or at least a glass of water and a biscuit. The truth is, tempting though it can be to just lose ourselves in our fictional worlds, you’ve got to take care of yourself first. I imagine this is the same reason ancient peoples made food offerings to the gods – if your Creator is dehydrated, hungry, and a bit grumpy, the creations are going to depreciate in quality or stop altogether. The same applies to you, but your characters can’t provide much in the way of offerings and so, as usual, you’ll have to do it yourself. Get some food and water in you.
If that doesn’t work, there are a few other things it’s worth trying. Take a piece of writing you’ve already done and write a silly adventure for one of the characters. It could be something completely plausible that they might have done in the past, or it could be a zany space adventure. The key thing is to write something you’re not going to take too seriously, something you probably won’t use. You can get writing without overthinking it, then, and you might even get some interesting ideas or insights on the way.
Another non-writing solution can be to switch your writing brain off for a minute or two and go and create a character or setting on some sort of game – the Sims, for example, offers the opportunity to do either, most MMOs allow for character creation, and you can play with a fair few architectural planning programmes online for free. Create something new and try to give some thought to a backstory – you’re building an old house, but who were its first occupants? Why was the nursery built in such a strange place? Was it ever used? Who lives there now? Or perhaps you’re creating a character – what do they love? Who was their first best friend? What did they want to be when they were little? Did they follow that dream, and if not, why? Even if you never use the settings or characters again (and let’s be honest, if you keep a note of them you’re bound to use them for something eventually), it helps to get the writing part of your brain in gear and gets you exploring possibilities.
Often the best solution, though, is to just grit your teeth and power through. Even if it feels like you’re writing complete rubbish, keep writing. You can cut it all out later if you need to, but there’s likely to be some good stuff in there somewhere, at some point. Eventually, you’ll hit your stride and crush that writer’s block like a bug. In fact, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and go and get some writing done.
…One last word before I do – if all else fails, take a nap. That’ll cure most things.
What are your strategies for beating writer’s block?