Curse the thing. it happens to the best of us.
Here are 5 TIPS for dealing with the doubt and breaking through to progress your writing.
1. Just keep writing. Hit a slow spot? Stalled in the middle of a thought or don't know where to go from here? Write something, anything. Even if it's the phrase "I don't know what to write," over and over again, keep those fingers on the keyboard and at least go through the motions. Eventually, out of sheer boredom and stubbornness, you'll return to the glory that is your work-in-progress.
2. Walk away. Literally, go for a walk to clear your head. Take a bike ride. Jog around the block. Weed the flower beds. Whatever. Physical activity can free your mind up, allowing you to work out the issues with your story in your head while your body is otherwise occupied. You're still actively solving problems, just looking at them from a different angle.
3. Give yourself a deadline. Whether it is jumping in on an annual writing challenge (such as NaNoWriMo - writing a 50K word novel in the month of Nov.) or joining a critique group that meets ever second Tuesday of the month or having your mom call you every night to get a progress report, make yourself, and your writing, accountable to someone else. News reporters must meet daily deadlines for their editors. So can you. It's much harder to make excuses for not writing when you make your progress a spectator sport.
4. Send the self-editor on VACA. Rather than edit a page to death before moving on to the next, consider writing without looking back at your work until you've hit a certain page count goal (or even wait until you are completely done). Editing your own work can be just as gratifying after the story is down. Don't use the excuse "I'll just clean this up a bit" to avoid moving on and pushing through whatever "block" you've bumped up against. Choosing to accept a crappy first draft can be incredibly freeing.
5. Read. We've all gotten lost in a good book when we should be working on something. In the case of writer's block, sometimes picking up a book in the same genre in which you are working can actually help get the creative juices flowing again. We'll call this "research." Go one step further ... sit down and read the first several chapters of a book you've already read and loved. Read it, this time, for structure and really analyze what worked and what didn't. Lay the book aside and think about your own work and how you can improve it, based on what you just read. With luck, this will be enough to move that writer's block out of the way.
Out, damned spot ... um ... writer's block. Be gone.
Happy writing, my friends!
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