It sucks! You sit down to write and your muse has taken off on vacation and here you are, left staring at a blank page with writers block. Your creative writing isn’t at its peak; it isn’t what it should be. You’re drained, or maybe just not where you want to be?
It sounds familiar right? Because it’s something all writers experience at onetime-or-another. And even if you haven’t gone through it yet…it’s coming to get you…I promise.
And it may settle in for a while. I mean, I went through a whole year of it. Can you imagine? Every time I tried to type nothing came out, all of my old processes lost their shine and my brain ground to halt.
I tried everything and eventually came to terms with the depressing idea that the only writing I’d do from now on would be ‘non-fiction’ & editing. And I decided that I should be happy with that. I mean, look at all my wonderful testimonials.
“Impressive! Impressive! Impressive!” – May 2016
“Fast turn around time – great writing! Thanks :)” – June 2016
“Expert advice, gentle touch. Very thoughtful editor! I’m very happy with her work!” – July 2016
I was slaying it…for other people. My clients book hit top 100 Amazon lists and I was creating page after page of on-point copy.
But I couldn’t write my own stuff…every time I sat down and tried, waffle came out, writers block hit.
Here I was, advising other writers, writing non-fiction for other clients, and I couldn’t write the one thing which ignited my writing passions. Fiction. I was miserable, no matter what way I looked at it.
That’s why at the start of the year I took a long look at what happens when I
Simply. Cannot. Write.
Because 2017 was going to be a time for my fiction. But with so much else to do I had to fit it in quickly, it had to be efficient, I couldn’t plan and plan and write and write and edit and edit forevaaaa. So I sat down and over the course of 3 months I read every book, blog and self help video I could get my hands on to really hone down EXACTLY what would help me go from, no writing at all (seriously), to a published fiction, this year.
I, of course, melded all of these great reads and views with my own lessons (which I learned the hard way through other writers, through editing, seeing others success and through hard work and perseverance).
I learned a lot over those 3 months.
In fact I’m more than confident I understand my writer’s brain and your writer’s brain.
But before you start reading and tell me you’ve heard it all before, let me stop you.
Yes you may have heard of these problems before, but have you found the solutions? I’m guessing not, or you wouldn’t still have these issues.
My ideas are NOT generic, plucked from other webpages and copy pasted into a new blog post, like woot Find the TOP 5 WAYS to beat writer’s block NOW! No, this is real, raw, actual advice from a place of freaking crushing it.
Are you ready? Let’s dig in to my vault of knowledge.
You’re Afraid of Success
You’re writing; you’re in your own creative world; suddenly you have this whole new life; and this story is pure…brilliance. You’re brilliant! Your world is brilliant! Except, you hit the end of the draft, and read it back…
It’s not so brilliant. In fact it‘s a piling steam of garbage.
What if you’re on a deadline and you have to give this piece of garbage to your friends, family, beta reader…or heaven forbid, editor? The panic sets in and you haven’t even started yet.
And if you think you’re too good-a-writer for this issue, contemplate this…
What if you THINK it’s brilliant, and it’s not. It’s the worst thing anyone in the history-of-ever has written—except you’re too blind, too sucked in by your beastly characters to see it.
Have I sufficiently terrified you? Yeah. THIS right here, was my number one issue and I’m willing to bet, it’s an issue for a lot of you.
In fact writers quote this issue again and again. And I have a quote for you to soothe you back down to reality and help you feel well, less alone in this fear.
And hopefully hammer in how irrational it is… sooo don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Overcoming fear is really about one thing: facing it.
That may be a cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason. Yeah I get it, it’s hard, but you have to stop over thinking. Stop wondering what will happen and just DO IT, or you will stare at bland words and blank pages for a long time to come.
Maybe even more than a year, heaven forbid.
Before you click away and roll your eyes at me like, “Jean, if I could do that I’d have done it already”…I have a 3 ways to achieve it and I’m positive at least one will work for your writers block.
How to Make Un-Thinking Plausible
The first is Write or Die. This is how, (once I had a plan in place) I actually got the words down on paper for a first draft. It’s going to kick your ass three ways to Sunday but you will have words on the page; and words are fixable, editable and polishable; a blank page isn’t. Don’t be the writer with the blank page, can’t no one work with that. This software is free (or you can get the paid version) and it punishes you every time you stop typing. Yeah…it’s cruel, but it’s the bomb, I’ve used it for every writing deadline ever.
The second tip is to write anything. Yes, literally any word or phrase you can think of. Even if it’s complete nonsense, the point is to keep writing, keep creating sentences, every day at the same time. Here we are building a routine of writing, and teaching your brain ‘at this time of day we write’. Twitter has a good group of people who do this over at #5amwritersclub. 5am is a scary time to do it, but this tells you it’s worked for others, so eventually it will click. Okay maybe it doesn’t work to get your creative juices pumping, but it will help you feel like you’re doing something instead of nothing.
The last tip probably isn’t what you want to hear…but maybe you’re over-thinking because you have an idea for a story, but it’s just too great. It’s just too much pressure right now. It’s an epic, fantastical story and if it flops, well you’re left with nothing. When this happens I write something else. I know, I know, it’s not exactly ideal but normally my subconscious fears the piece for a reason. A huge plot hole, or some part of the story that hadn’t come to me yet. There’s a reason this piece isn’t flowing right onto the page.
Always. Follow. Your. Gut.
Plus, writing something else gives that story time to form. Which is part of my process, and may be a part of yours too.
You Can’t Come Up With Ideas
You’ve written everything, or everything you think of sounds so…boring. It doesn’t excite you, it doesn’t fuel your passion, it’s just well…bla.
I get this way too, and it gets worse when other people start to pitch ideas to me. “You should write about XYZ! Picture how great it will be,” they say, their eyes gigantic and round. You catch their excitement, you want to show them what the story would look like on a page. You sit down to write annnnd…nothing.
Which is why, if it doesn’t feel right, if it doesn’t feel exciting, if it doesn’t come from you, then it won’t be a good piece.
You’re looking for a spark, something to make your heart beat faster, something sent directly from the heavens.
But you won’t get it by sitting there…
You HAVE to be trying to find it. Or at least making an effort.
If you keep talking to people about how you want to be a writer, how you have all these great ideas, but never actually do anything about it, guess what…nothing is going to happen. Because, shock and awe… actions change the things around you, basic physics you guys.
In fact, they have a word for it in marketing/business circles and it’s called actionable goals. That means, things you can take action with to reach your goals, not just fly by your pants fantasy goals.
You can think: I want a novel written by the end of the year, or you can break down how you’re going to do that and do the first step. And the first is to obviously find something to write about.
You can download a workbook for that from my Resource vault here:
3 Ways To Find Inspiration & Beat Writers Block
Meditate and let it come to you. Some of you may be looking at the screen like I’m crazy right now. No! I’m not some hippy lady who engages in er ‘illicit things’ and never shaves (although, the shaving part with 3 kids is a hit and miss). But I do meditate, every night, before I go to bed. I sit down with my note book and I write down everything I want to achieve the next day.
In this case, you would write “I want to envision the perfect story idea.”
Then I go to YouTube and I search for meditations…manifesting meditations, confidence meditations, clearing my mind and even binaural beats at a creative frequency, whatever aligns with what you want or what you’re trying to achieve.
And I swear, (you may think I’m nuts) but I swear it works. When you open up and stop stressing about having that idea, it will come to you.
The other tip is mind maps. I’m not much of a mind map person, but I do use it in non-fiction when I want to expand on an idea I already have. In this case the idea you already have is probably what genre you want to write in (or you can pick a character, a phrase, a setting). You can find more of those here on my Pinterest account.
Write your concept in the middle of the page, and start to build out, write whatever it makes you think of. Then write what that makes you think of, and on and on. You never know, inspiration might hit you, or you may come up with an idea for a story to work on until the perfect one finds you.
You can download my Mind-Map Worksheet here, for finding inspirational ideas.
The final way to envision a new story is actually to observe others stories. Look at your favorite genre and grab a few books you wish you had written. Watch a television show you wish you could turn into a book. This is pretty much a sure fire way of giving me a whole bunch of ideas.
Will the ideas often be similar to what I’m reading/watching? Sure, it may include one trope from that book/show, an item, or a ‘what if the writer did this with that’ spin off. But the story in the end is never the same as the one I read/watched.
This way of searching for a new story it is a sure fire way to inspire me to write. When I read I often have a hard time finishing a book because I’m too bombarded with fresh, exciting ideas.
How to Get Over Past Failure
Another thing that stops me from writing and destroys my creativity is past failure. This could be a critique that particularly hit home (you know the ones), or a project I dropped and never completed, or a story rejection or a book that flopped. All of those things spin around in your head until you feel low, depleted, and like you’re not good enough to succeed at anything.
And find the positive people in your life.
If you can’t pull yourself from negative thoughts, sometimes others excitement spreads and fills the cracks where the negative thoughts live. Joining creative, encouraging groups who support you instead of tearing you down is often the boost you need. There are a few groups you can join to overcome this feeling of writers doom.
3 Groups to Join
Nanawrimo hosts a bunch of writing competitions each year. Not the sort of competition where you send in your finished story, but the sort where you finish a story/screen play within a certain time frame. The forums are friendly, and during the summer camp competitions you’re grouped with other writers and have a place to talk and exchange ideas.
Twitter groups, twitter is a great place for writers. There are many hastags you can search to see what other writers are doing, engage with them, ask questions, connect. Some of these hastags are: #amwriting, #amediting, #amplotting, #5amwritersclub, #selfpub, #99c, #authorchat, #ff, #IAN, #nanowrimo, #wordcount, #writegoal, #writetip, #writingblitz, #writingfiction, #writerwednesday and more…Making friends through twitter is easy…annnnnd you should add me because I love, love, love talking to other writers on twitter @JeanLaneWrites and I will totally be your positive thoughts friend haha
Finally, you can search for groups around your area. If you’re the sort of person who benefits from face-to-face mentoring, or maybe you just need to find friends who share your interests, there are websites to find groups around you. MeetUp: This is a people hosted meetup group site (say that 3 times fast), where people get together and engage in all sorts of hobbies. Search writer in the search bar and see what’s near you!
Tell me what I’ve missed which works for you to reduce writers block and find story ideas?
Let’s spread the wealth and help our fellow authors succeed.
You can even sign up to my emailing list to get ideas, worksheets, workbooks and more by simply providing an email address. In general I only send one email a week, so you won’t be bombarded unless you want me to bombard you… and who am I to judge?
Do you want to come up with an idea now?
And follow through to a fully formed, ready to plot story?
My workbook Discover Your Next Story is available for download. You will go from no idea, to total story concept in 4 simple steps! Or you can download my 50 watercolor cards! Just print them off and shuffle to get a new writing prompt.
I hope everyone has a fantastic writing day!
You can pin it!