How Do I Beat Writer’s Block?

Writer’s block is sudden drying up of the well (the ink-well?). It’s when ideas cease and that flow of words that you had going turns from a stream to a trickle to dust.

I have never experienced writer’s block to the extent that some have. Some writer’s talk of months and years when nothing would come. I can’t imagine that, I can’t comprehend that kind of torturous inner silence. It would drive me crazy, but I have had long instances of that inner voice turning stubbornly to face the wall and giving me the silent treatment for days on end.

My solution? Write through it. You may say ‘but writer’s block is the inability to write.’ Not so; writer’s block is the inability to start something new or continue what you are currently working on. You can always write SOMETHING, it doesn’t have to be good just so long as there are words on the page that make some semblance of sense. Batter through, use your words like dynamite and blow through the barricade in your mind.

If you are halfway through a project and you don’t know how to continue – just write something, anything. I find my best ideas come mid-composition anyway, why plan it out? Let the characters figure it out for you. The best piece of writing advice I have ever read was by Shannon Hale – an American writer of YA novels, it goes:

“When writing a first draft, I have to remind myself constantly that I am only                       shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles.”

Sounds like something Hemingway would’ve written in A Moveable Feast, but it was actually posted on Twitter two years ago and it’s great advice! Writer’s block can come about because you think that what you’re writing isn’t very good or you’re stuck on a plot point and don’t know how to get out. Stephen King – in his book On Writing – says that he got stuck for months when writing The Stand because there were too many characters, too many loose threads that needed tying up, it was all too big.

The answer to all of these is: just keep shoveling that sand into that box – you might find that the characters figure it out for you, you might find that you struggle through until the writing becomes easier again, you might find that in the second draft you mold that loose sand into art.

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