Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Breaking A Writing Block

Sometimes you're stuck and have no idea what to write next. Or maybe you feel like writing, but your brain isn't cooperating. Whether you call it writer's block or just a bad day at the keyboard, it's hard to be creative when the words won't flow. Here are a few ways that some of the MiG Writers cope:

Kate Fall: Sometimes writing longhand with pen and a notebook gets me out of
writer's block. Sometimes I get writer's block because I'm not sure about the plot, so I try to identify exactly what's bothering me and if I need to do some research. Talking things out with my writer friends can help too.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi:  I find deadlines really help. If I don't have a formal deadline (like a book contract), then I set regular deadlines with myself or with an accountability partner. I find that setting deadlines with myself doesn't always work because it's too easy to change them. At least if you set them with someone else, there's a pride factor involved.

Carmella Van Vleet: When I'm stuck, often times I take a break and head to taekwondo class. When I'm there, my mind has to be fully focused. (It's why I loved doing yoga a few years back, too.) When my brain is forced to be elsewhere for an hour or two, I find that I'm oddly ready to go back to work and full of ideas. Another trick that I heard about recently and have had success with is simply saying "Hmmmm" out loud. I know it sounds corny but it helps!

Andrea Mack: What usually helps me is to think more deeply about where I’m trying to go with my story. I’ll revisit my story plan and maybe even do some editing on an earlier part of the story. If that doesn’t get me back into the story world and writing again, then I brainstorm. I ask myself, “What could happen next?” and write down all the possibilities. That usually sparks something that gets me going.

What's your secret for getting past a writing block?
P.S. We're still waiting for Wysefyre to e-mail us to claim the prize, Pie by Sarah Weeks, from our "Growth Spurt" contest. Wysefyre, if you're out there, you have until Friday Oct. 28th to claim your prize. Otherwise, we'll draw another winner.



  1. Andrea, Sometimes, instead of brainstorming myself, I'll ask one of my kids what should happen next just to shake things up. Their responses are often very interesting!

    Kate, I find writing things out long hand also helps me. I think connects me to my young self when I'd often write in the middle of math class. haha

    Deb, deadlines sometimes work for me and other times, they make things harder. But there is nothing better than crossing something off your list!

  2. Car, I love asking my kids for help. At first, they often say, "I don't know" but after a while I get some good ideas that can take my writing in a new, unexpected direction.

    And oh, I love crossing things off lists! Sometimes they stick there for a long time before I can do that, though (especially when my list includes things like: Finish writing novel).

  3. I have two approaches: the lightning and the molasses.

    The lightning is a writing sprint. I set an amount of time (half hour or hour), then announce on Twitter that I will write a certain number of words in that time. I always surpass my goal.

    Molasses is a physical trick that helps me a lot. If I'm stuck, I make myself start writing something, anything, in slow motion. It only takes about a sentence (whether I end up using it or not) to break through.

  4. Oh, these are great ideas! I'm definitely going to try that slow motion thing.

  5. Great post. I love how we help each other.
    BIC (=Butt In Chair) has worked for me, and giving myself permission to write something miserably formulaic at times.

  6. OK, I'm trying the molasses trick this weekend!

  7. I put the fingers to the keys and goooo....

  8. I do the good old pen and paper, too. Either write or doodle...opens up the thinking and imagining in a way the computer doesn't. Showering works too, lol!


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