6 ways to bust writer’s block
These tips are from my new book B.Y.O.P. Be Your Own Publisher. It’s available right now on Amazon for a buck-fifty. Download it here.
I don’t believe writer’s block exists. You’re blocked? You “can’t write?” Bullshit. You just don’t want to write. You’re sure it’s crap and you’d rather feel sorry for yourself and eat Doritos. Or you’re just bored. You’re slogging through the dull part of your story and you’d rather write the exciting bits.
First of all, why are you putting dull bits in your book? Do you want to read dull bits? So why would you expect your readers to suffer through them?
Here are six ways to bust so-called writer’s block and kick your ass in gear:
1. Change of Position. If you usually write while sitting at a desk, trying standing at the kitchen counter or lying in bed. As long as your fingers can reach the keys, you can make it work.
2. Change of Venue. No, darling, that is not an excuse to set up your laptop at Starbucks and people watch. You’re not going to get anything done there. Pick yourself up and move somewhere that still provides the conditions you need to get in the writing zone. Hie thee hence to a place you don’t normally write but is conducive to writing. Block out time in an unoccupied conference room at the office. Set up in the guest bedroom. Sit in the back seat of your car. The expensive but really great solution is a hotel room. I save this one for writing the end of a book and/or death scenes.
3. The Clock. Set the kitchen timer (or your iPhone alarm, or buy an awesome vintage egg timer on Etsy or eBay) for thirty minutes. Or an hour. Smaller increments are less intimidating. Then tell yourself “I only have to write for x minutes and then I’m done.” You don’t have to finish a chapter or count words. Set the timer, start typing, and stop when you hear the buzzer. There, you wrote today. You’re not a loser. Feeling energized? Go for another thirty minutes.
4. The Carrot. Promise yourself a reward if you meet your writing goal. The reward should be commensurate with the goal. If I finish chapter eleven I get to watch two episodes of Scandal after the kids go to bed. If I write 5,000 words by the end of the week I get a mani-pedi (or an Avengers action figure). If I nail down the plot twist for the third act I get an extra scoop of ice cream.
5. The Stick. If you don’t do your writing for the day, you have to do something unpleasant. Like scrub toilets or write thank you letters. It’s got to be something you actually don’t like though; something you put off. Don’t try to fool yourself with punishments that you actually enjoy, perv.
6. The Cone of Silence. This one is for emergencies only. When you’ve tried bribing yourself and everything else on the list. First, unplug the modem. For real. Sit down at your desk (or wherever you get the serious writing done), put on headphones (noise canceling are perfect, but not necessary). Then start writing. Don’t get up, don’t answer the phone (put that thing on silent!) don’t do a damn thing but sit there in your cone and write. I like to listen to white noise or other ambient sounds that will cut off noise but not distract me or make me want to get up and dance. Waterfalls and ocean waves and Tibetan monks chanting. How long should you go? Listen, mister, you screwed around and now you’re in the cone. Stay in the cone until you hit your word count, or finish a chapter, or until you start to bleed from the eyes.