“Writers block is a condition that affects amateurs and people who aren’t serious about writing. So is the opposite, namely inspiration, which amateurs are also very fond of. Putting it another way: a professional writer is someone who writes just as well when they’re not inspired as when they are”-Philip Pullman.
A bit of a kick in the backside for most of us! The comments above might seem a little harsh and what about if you ARE an amateur, just starting out or find yourself stuck? Agreed. Giving a problem a name, labeling it, may make it seem alright to wallow in it a bit more. However, some practical tips on getting out of a writing rut is probably useful for most of us:
1. Just starting. Setting a time everyday to write, write anything, even if it is jotting down ideas, brain storming or writing something unrelated to your intended subject. It gets things flowing and ideas can stem from that.
This is the discipline advantage, creating a habit. They say it takes 21 days of repeated action to form a habit. Like doing some exercise, much of the battle in creating a positive habit is mental. Just setting a non-moveable time everyday to write something, even if it’s quite trivial, can form a routine as natural as brushing your teeth.
2. Create an audience. What do you do if you have a small or non-existent readership and so little feedback going on? Rope in a friend or two who will be expecting something from you every day or two. This person or people will be someone who can encourage you, who you can bounce ideas off and who you give permission to, to critique you.
3. Find a writing buddy. A little bit like asking a friend to hold you accountable but this person will also be involved in writing themselves. They therefore may be even better placed to bounce ideas off and you can help them as much as they help you. Another set of eyes to look over your work can see things that you miss and spot different ways of doing things.
4. Get away from your desk. If you have been sat there for hours and nothing is flowing, then doing something completely different is a tried and tested method of sparking ideas. Hilary Mantel says that you need to create a space for ideas, open a gap for them. Take a walk or a bath and be patient.
5. Write something else. Sometimes, paralysis is caused by too much analysis. Focusing on the same subject and staring at the same page can just slow everything down and numb the mind. Try having two or more projects going at the same time.
This way, you can spread the focus, jump from one to the other and hopefully stop the mind getting bored with one subject matter. Ideas can also cross-pollinate from one project to the other, opening up more channels of creativity.
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