How to Handle Writer’s Block

The salt breeze hissed over the crashing waves, gulls crying as they swirled and dived high above. The setting sun gleamed gold in the west. Pebbles crunched under his feet, worn smooth from their journey to the shore.                           

Today’s the day, folks! I’m stoked, I can’t wait! This is it, the big day! I am going to WRITE. This is going to be so awesome. I am on FIRE!

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My biggest passion is about to unfold. The cursor blinks waiting for all this genius inside my head. Aaand then it hits me. Writer’s block! I stare blankly at the screen and think, ‘What just happened?’

I have a vast world both outside and inside my head and yet NOTHING is coming to mind. The cursor is blinking at me, yet the words are stuck inside my clunky little brain. It sucks!

But fear not! If you have ever felt these niggling doubts and this paralysing brain freeze, then you are normal. Yes, writer’s block is completely normal! ALL of us at one point or another suffer from it. That’s why I was inspired to create Tom’s Top Eight! The top eight ways to tame this beast and turn it into something new and exciting!

Here I will put in my own top eight ways to bust through writer’s block. Remember: this is a guide, not a rulebook. Not all of them will work. But they sure helped me get the ball rolling again:

Tom’s Top Eight Tips for Writer’s Block:

1. Go back to your favourite location: Whenever I struggle with that blinking cursor I begin to brainstorm places. My favourite memories come from nature and dramatic scenery. I begin to write what I see around me in my mind’s eye. Is the day sunny? Is it drizzling pathetically? Is it hanging in mist? Are there trees? How do they look and smell? After a few paragraphs of describing that place, I can begin to go more in-depth. I will drop in a character who is also enjoying (or hating) the location I built around them.

2. Read a book: Yes, you heard me right. Sounds obvious, but…GO. READ. A. BOOK.

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Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, inspiration is all around us. Sometimes I have to read the whole book, sometimes not. It’s as if I’m getting a snapshot glimpse into another world for a short time, giving my mind a break from my own cluttered thoughts. New perspectives, new ideas. Or maybe I’ll enjoy the well written journey from one of my favourite writers. Besides, books are awesome!

3. Phone a friend: This one comes in real handy if you have someone who is supportive of your dream to be an author. It comes in handy if you have someone supportive of you. Sometimes, it just plain comes in handy. I have a core group of folks I probably send ridiculous messages to ask for help from. That’s alright because in the end, we can all lament about fictional stories, misbehaving characters and the dreaded ‘Block Beast’. 

4. Do something else: Sometimes we all just need to walk away from our screens. I find a chore that I deliberately put off while in my last writing hole.  I might go unpack a box or two, telling myself I WILL move faster than three hours this time. I might go outside and find an offensive weed to pull, water the plants that are nearly dead, or even *drumroll* fold the laundry. (Gasp! I know! A guy folding his own laundry? What is this world coming to) 🙂

5. Have an adventure: I DON’T mean go impulse-book a flight to South America and bungee jump off a tall bridge. I mean go for a walk, ride a bike, take a drive. Change your scene! Try that new coffee shop you’ve driven by but never stopped at. Stomp down that muddy track through the woods with the birds singing all around you. Walk along that beach with the waves crashing in your ears and the salt in the air and the breeze blowing in your face. It helps! An adventure is as easy as a new experience right in your home town.

6. Work on character development: I sometimes have that pesky new character hiding in the shadows. They don’t want to come forward, or let me know too much about them at first. Sometimes to beat out writer’s block, just start writing the biography of a character or two. What do they like? Do they have a favorite colour? On a scale of one to ten, how insecure are they? What are their childhood dreams, their deepest fears, their wildest hopes? All of this will bring about a richer and fuller character when that block finally lifts.

7. Write a bunch of stuff: Yep, this! Write a bunch of stuff! This is my current tactic. Sometimes I have to get all the crap and junk out of the way to really hone in on what story I am trying to tell. Just word-vomit if that’s what it takes! It may look rubbish, but once the word vomit is over and your idea more solidified, the story will emerge triumphant. It will be one you finish, tuck away, and work towards publishing once you feel it’s good enough. Keep up the writing! 
8. Take a nap: I know, I know, sounds lazy and boring. But it sure helps. Sometimes you just need some shut-eye away from all the THINKING and PLANNING and WRITING. Get all the breaks you need, take some time out, and you’ll return refreshed and ready to tackle whatever challenge life will throw at you next.

I hope you enjoyed Tom’s Top Eight Tips to busting through writer’s block. If you try any of these, I would love to hear how that goes for you. Or if you have any other ideas, I would love to hear them, as we all suffer from this from time to time. Until then: read, write, and keep being awesome. Have a great week! 💕

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