Since freelance writers depend on their way with words to earn a living, they often find themselves in search of a list of the top ways to overcome writer's block.
Top Ways to Overcome Writer's Block
Getting stuck on a project happens to all writers. Fortunately, there are plenty of tricks you can use to help yourself snap out of the slump.
Read a Good Book
Many writers are conflicted as to whether or not reading is one of the top ways to overcome writer's block. While it's true that reading in the same genre as what you're working on can sometimes make you feel like you have nothing new to contribute to the discussion, reading something that's a bit outside the scope of your normal material can give you a fresh perspective that's vital for generating new ideas. If you write romances, read a few murder mysteries or a good western. If you write science fiction, consider reading a few comics or graphic novels. If you're a newspaper journalist, try reading a popular memoir.
On a similar note, some people find that reading books about writing, creativity, or biographies of writers they admire works well as a strategy for overcoming writer's block. Many of these books also contain writing exercises which encourage you to get your thoughts down on paper. Titles you may wish to try include:
- The Complete Artist's Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice by Julia Cameron
- Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
- On Writing by Stephen King
- The Five Minute Writer: Exercise and Inspiration in Creative Writing in Five Minutes a Day by Margaret Geraghty
Take a Shower
If you conducted an informal survey of 100 writers, there's a good chance at least 80 of them will say their best ideas come to them in the shower. Whether it's the hot steam, the scent of your favorite body wash, or the simple fact that it's a bit of a distraction from what's bothering you, taking a shower is a great way to get hit with a dose of inspiration. You will want to keep a notebook or a tape recorder handy, however, so you can quickly capture ideas before they escape you in the shower.
Because of the nature of their work, writers often find themselves spending long hours in front of their desks. This lack of movement can often lead to a frustration with one's work. Exercise gets your blood pumping and charges your creative juices. You can try to overcome writer's block by taking a walk, going to the gym, or dancing to your favorite exercise game on the Nintendo Wii. Even a quick break for some stretching can be helpful, if you're too close to your deadline for a complete workout. Visit LoveToKnow Yoga for suggestions on simple poses.
Examine Your Workspace
As a professional writer, you deserve to have a workspace that makes it as easy as possible for you to concentrate on your projects. An uncomfortable chair, bad lighting, or a computer that's crashing every 30 minutes can easily contribute to problems with writer's block. Taking time to fix these issues can pay big rewards.
Assuming you won't be distracting anyone, don't forget that small touches such as listening to your favorite music or burning a candle in a soothing scent can boost your mood as well. The more relaxed you feel, the easier it will be to overcome writer's block.
Just Start Writing
When all else fails, sometimes you just need to plant yourself in front of your desk and pledge that you won't stop writing until you've gotten through your block. Since they're only paid for finished work, professional freelance writers simply don't have the luxury of waiting weeks or months to overcome writers block. Despite the images of tortured artists and creative slackers you see in the media, writing is just like any other job. Setting a regular schedule, even if it involves writing just 500 words per day, often works wonders.
For many writers, the first sentence is the hardest. However, if you keep plugging away at your work, you'll eventually find that you're coming up with plenty of usable ideas. Just remember that you can always go back to edit your work later.