Most writers have had the experience of writer's block: the words don't flow, the story is stuck, you stare at the page, do almost anything to procrastinate. Waiting for the muse to move you is not the answer--especially if you've got a deadline.
Writer Ken Myers has some great tips to jump-start your writing when you hit a wall.
What do you do when you don’t feel like writing? When you stare and stare at a page, hoping something will come to mind but nothing does? What do you do when inspiration does not seem to poke, not to mention strike? I am having one of those days today. It just seems like I have spent most of today staring at the blank screen, hoping for something to hit me upside the head and make me start writing. Well, here are some of the ways that I get writing anyway, even without inspiration:
1. Just start – I find that if I just start writing (like I have today) I will get into the flow and actually accomplish something. Now this does not always work. Sometimes all I get out of it is a bunch of gobbled gook, but most of the time it works out okay for me. Just try not to force your brain into something it does not want to write about. Instead, let your fingers do the talking and write what comes.
2. Edit later – A bad habit I have is when I am tired or uninspired I tend to pick at things. Maybe it is that zit on my face or that misspelled word, either way it will waste my time and just make things worse. Instead of editing as you write when you are barely inspired, wait until you finish to get rid of all those pesky red lines. If you stop now you will completely lose what flow you had and be even worse off than before.
3. Get off social media – I admit, I do this a lot. When I don’t feel like writing I waste my time like crazy. I hang out on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Nothing like a few billion photos to waste some time, right? Well, stop it! Shut down the social media and get back to your writing. You are in control of it, so use some will power and get back to work.
4. Crank up the tunes – To inspire myself to write I often put on my favorite tunes and crank it up loud. It blocks out the defeatist vibes and gest me in a better frame of mind to write. Once I get going, however, I switch to instrumental or nature sounds to keep my attention on my work. Keep in mind not to waste your time with a playlist either. Have it ready to go and just keep writing.
5. Shut off distractions – The phone is ringing, the texts are coming in, kids are screaming, coworkers want to chat and you have work to do. Turn it off! No one will have a hernia if your phone is off for an hour or two. Instead of chatting it up, tell them you are busy. No is a valid response.
6. Have writing time – If I do not set aside writing time I get caught up in other junk. It is just as simple as that. Like saving money, you have to save time. Make writing a part of your schedule, like eating or bathing. If everyone knows it is writing time then they are more likely to leave you alone. Also your brain will get used to cranking things out at that time, making it easier to get into writing mode when it comes time.
7. Keep an inspiration notebook – I am not inspired by my computer screen or my desk. I see that every day. Instead I am inspired by things I see when I am out and about and people I talk to. That is why I have started carrying a notebook with me to write down inspiration. Then when I get back to my desk I can sit down, open my notebook, and have tons of inspiration ready to go.
8. Write stream of conscious – Instead of censoring yourself and trying to make your writing fit some kind of mould, why not just write. Some of the best things I have ever written were written fast and without thinking. I then look back on it and think how impressive it is that all that was inside of me. Don’t think. Just write.
9. Take a nap – Sometimes you are just too tired to think clearly. Take a nap. Yes, I know you are not three years old or ninety, but that does not mean naptime is out. Curl up in your car, take a snooze on the couch or just find a quiet corner and rest your eyes. Even if you don’t sleep your brain will still get a much needed break. After all, how much quiet time do you really get to unwind and process your thinking?
10. Take a break – Beyond just a nap, sometimes I am anxious. Not sleepy at all, a nap would send me to the moon. Instead I go for a walk; gets the blood pumping and my eyes focused on something beyond the end of my nose. A brisk walk, a jaunt down the stairs or even a few jumping jacks will get your blood to your brain and make you feel like you can sit and get things on paper.
11. Drink water – Dehydration is a big deal. I know it sounds silly, but when I start getting that tired headache feeling I chug a glass or two of water. Sometimes that is all it takes to get me back on track. A little lubrication for the brain, right?
12. Talk to someone – When I am really stuck for ideas it helps to talk it out. Now I am not a big talker. I’d rather write a letter any day, but talking is sometimes what it takes. Find a friend, find a pet, or heck talk to yourself. Just get the words out and your ideas flowing and you’ll be sure to find inspiration.
13. Write outside your style – If you are still stick try thinking outside of the box. If you write fiction write nonfiction and vice versa. Try poetry or metered verse. Sometimes changing up your writing style can open your eyes to new ideas and get you inspired once again.
14. Make an outline – The opposite of uninspired is sometimes just as hard to deal with. Have you ever had so many ideas that you didn’t know what to do first, so nothing came out? Yeah, we have all had those days. Instead of keeping that all trapped in your head write it down. Make an outline of what you want to write. A list works well too. Do not worry about order right now. Just get it out and then organize yourself later.
15. Set time limits – When I am short of ideas and want to really motivate myself I set a timer. I give myself a few minutes or maybe an hour to get x amount of words written. I tell you, that is a great way to stress yourself out but it also helps me to get things done. Setting goals and limits helps to keep you on track even if they are just self-imposed.
These are just a few of the ways I get over writing uninspired. Not that inspiration always comes after all this, but at least I get something accomplished. Take it one step at a time and don’t worry about writing something worthy of Shakespeare. Instead, be thankful for what you get out and wait until you are in a better frame of mind to decide if it is good or not. Good luck and happy writing!
Ken Myers is the founder of http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.