If you’re a writer, chances are you will have experienced writer’s block; your creativity runs dry, your storyline falls through and you find yourself in a rut. You’re not alone; even famous writers find themselves at the mercy of writer’s block.
“Always stop while you are going good…That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it, you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.” – Ernest Hemingway.
Writer’s block can be tamed with a few simple tricks. We spoke to our industry experts to get their 10 favourite ways to overcome writer’s block.
If you can’t settle on or come up with an idea…
1. Imagine a scenario and resolve it.
Imagine a scenario, then imagine how it develops and resolves. This should help to get the ideas rolling again without the pressure to have it down on paper.
2. Play cupid.
Try writing a scene where someone dies and someone else falls in love, or write a character assassination: The contrast between the two events should awaken the mind, leaving it more open to new ideas formulating. Plotting an assassination will help with formulating the different stages of an idea and planning how it might pan out.
3. Write a satire.
The use of humour and wit might help establish those little details when developing an idea.
4. One character, one line.
Portray a character in one line. This one can be tricky but effective, e.g. “His face was grey with corporate mediocrity.”
Too many ideas and can’t pick one?
5. Start afresh.
If none of the ideas captured your interest the first time you thought of them, it is unlikely they ever will. Be bold… axe them all.
When you’re stuck in the middle of a story…
6. Find the flaw.
If you’re stuck, odds are there is a fatal flaw in your story…You either can’t see it or are too stubborn to see it. Use a hacksaw and cut it out. Make it your mission.
7. The part you’re stuck at is boring.
Go off on a tangent and see where it takes you. Think outside the box! Introduce a new element: throw a dice, twist a knife.
8. Invent a story based on a stranger.
Sit in a public place and use the people you can see around you to build a character upon. You can also use your other senses for inspiration: try setting a scene quickly through what you can smell.
9. Take to the future.
Describe how a mundane daily function might be done in 200 years from now. Turning an everyday object or task into something new may help with the process of creating a big idea out of something small.
10. Take a break.
Eat cake, go for a walk, play Candy Crush… It’s important not to overwork yourself as your productivity will lessen. Use the power of your subconscious mind: if you think of an idea, go and do something completely unrelated for a while to let your mind get to work in the background. Often when you return, the idea seems clearer and/or more developed.
Want more Writing Tips?
We are hosting an evening at Foyles Charing Cross for all aspiring writers. You can meet our expert writers from different media, learn about the writing industry, drink tea and eat cake.
Contributions to this article are from KT Forster, course leader of BA (Hons) Creative & Professional Writing and ex-Managing Director of Virgin Books.