The only just literary critic is Christ, who admires more than does any man, the gifts He Himself has bestowed. – JRR Tolkien

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Writer’s Block – Keep the Writing Momentum

How to Avoid & Crush Writer's Block

How do you keep the writing momentum up? What are some ideas to help with writer's block - what to do when you just can't write! Writing Help!

Silencing the Inner Critic – Overcoming writer’s block sometimes involves shutting up the little green monster that sits on the writer’s shoulder (particularly the beginning writer) telling them that everything they write is stupid, and that they’ll never make it as a writer.

Find a way to build confidence, and trust yourself. Write honestly, and without regard to what other people think.

Relax – The mind-body connection is an important factor in writing.

Although writing is primarily a mental activity, if your mind and body are out of sync – if you are tense or wound up – you’ll be unable to properly focus and concentrate on the task at hand, and might therefore experience writer’s block.

Take a few minutes to relax. Do some deep breathing exercises, but not too much, or you might fall asleep.

You’re looking to achieve a state where your mind is focused and alert while your body is relaxed.

Have a Routine – Avoiding writer’s block could mean having a routine. Many pros recommend writing at the same time every day. As creatures of habit, we humans function at a higher level when we maintain a schedule for our activities.

As we establish a routine, our minds and bodies begin to function in sync with natural rhythms. We come to instinctively know each day when it’s time to expend the effort and focus necessary to accomplish the desired task.

You might even reserve a special place in your home; a certain desk, or special chair, where you do nothing but write. That way, when you do take your seat (as those who regularly practice meditation call it), your creative self will be activated and unleashed, and therefore know that its now time to get down to business.

If your circumstances do not permit this, don’t sweat it. Simply do the best you can to discipline yourself to write at least a little bit, each and every day.

Pick an Easy Part & Write It – If you can’t come up with words for what you’re currently trying to write, skip ahead to something you know you’ll have no problems with. Something you’re looking forward to writing.

There’s no rule that says you have to write from chapter one to your climax in sequence. You can, if you so choose, skip ahead to the last chapter and write that now. Or think of a juicy part of your story, one you can’t wait to get to. Pick the part of your story that you think will be the funnest part to write, and write that.

Create – Don’t Edit! Understand that what you’re writing in the beginning – no matter how bad it comes out – is always going to be good enough for a first draft. The idea in overcoming writer’s block is to get the gates open. And to do that, you must first silence the gatekeeper – your inner critic. While you will definitely need him or her later on, right now you don’t.

You’re simply trying to get words on the page. You must trust yourself, and believe in yourself. Otherwise you won’t be in any mood to write or create.

If you find yourself thinking things like, “oh, this is hard work”, then you’re likely on the wrong track.

If, however, you find yourself thinking, “wow, this is fun”, then you’re on the right track.

In the beginning you don’t need to worry yourself with how you’re telling your story. Think as little as possible about spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Those things will only slow you down.

Defeating writer’s block means writing, not thinking about syntax or criticizing yourself for being too sentimental or cerebral.

Surrender! I’ve read here and there that one of the best ways to overcome writer’s block is to simply surrender to it. Don’t fight it, in other words. Look at it as your mind telling you something you need to hear. Perhaps you need a break from writing.

After all, you can’t force genius. Not that I would know anything about genius. But what I have found to be effective, when my mind won’t shut up and it’s difficult to focus, is to invite it to speak. Invite it to get everything off its chest.

I’ll say three words to myself: “Speak. I’m listening.”

Try it. Then sit back and listen. You might just be amazed at the result. When your mind knows you’re paying attention to it, it tends to settle down and becalm itself.

Tell Writer’s Block to Kick Rocks – I’ve also heard that there are some writers who don’t believe in writer’s block. To them, writer’s block is nothing but an excuse not to perform, dressed up in a Freudian dress. A self-imposed limitation that exists only in a much as you believe it exists.

Change Your Point of View – POV – Another way to defeat writer’s block is to change your POV. If you’re writing from a third person point of view, try changing to a first person. Or vice versa. Changing your point of view can often stimulate new ideas and get your fingers moving over the keyboard once again. Try as many perspectives as needed to get you off the bench and back on the field.

Get Up and Do Something Else – Go for a walk. Take a hot shower. Watch a movie. Learn how to tie a fly fishing lure. Then when you’re finished, go sit your ass back down at your computer and get back to work.

Socialize & Network: Writing is a lonely occupation. You can’t do it with five screaming kids distracting you, or the phone ringing off the hook. But isolation shrinks your world, and constrains your perspective on life. Therefore, go out and meet new people. Because ultimately, it’s from other people that we get new ideas and new perspectives.

Write Out Your Goal – Scribble on a piece of paper what you’re about to write.

“I’m going to write chapter one of my great American novel.”

Or, “I’m going to write the climax of my short story.”

Writing your goal down gives you a target to shoot at.

Even if it’s only a single page, the first step in accomplishing a goal is knowing what it is. Writing a goal down solidifies it in your mind, and makes it concrete and tangible.

Do you have trouble keeping up your writing momentum? Need some ideas to get typing on that book?

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone – Eliminating writer’s block sometimes involves making yourself un-comfortable. Try changing your environment or routine occasionally. If you normally write indoors, try going out on the patio or perhaps even to an outdoor cafe. Seeing something new might inspire new ideas. If you normally write in the morning, you might try writing in the evening instead.

Anything is Better Than Nothing – Even if you only write a single line, or word, write something! If you only write a sentence a day for a week, you’ll have written that opening paragraph you’ve been struggling to write for months. Which may be all it takes to open the floodgates and get you writing again.

Make a List of Words & Phrases – Whatever you’re trying to write about, make out a list of words or even phrases, which might be called for in the scene – something that might inspire you to form sentences.

Read a Book or Magazine – Read a story in any genre. Read history, science, science fiction, westerns, mysteries or literary novels. Better yet, read one in the genre you’re attempting to write in.

Better still, read one by your favorite author. Find a passage you’re particularly fond of, and copy it verbatim. Determine what exactly it is about that writing that attracts you to it. See if you can emulate that quality using your own words.

Reading not only stimulates new ideas, but it teaches you how to write. Read everything you can get your hands on. Particularly if you’re new to writing.

Record Yourself Telling Your Story – Record yourself telling or explaining the story you’re attempting to write. Play the recording back and listen. See if it sparks you to write.

As the Shoe Commercial Says, Just Do It – the purpose of these ideas is simply to inspire you to write somethinganything. To get the pen moving across the page, you pick it up and move it. The hardest part of writing – as with lots of other things – is sometimes just the act of starting – of overcoming inertia. It doesn’t even have to be the project you’re working on.

In getting the pen moving, you might just knock loose some ideas, or loosen up a bit, and in so doing, open the floodgates. So what are you waiting for?

Finally – Persist!! The most important factor in overcoming writer’s block is to never quit. Never give up. Write just one page a day, and in only a year, you’ll have written an entire novel. Do so, and you’ll have a sense of accomplishment few others can brag about.

See Galadriel’s Post – Ten Awesome Ideas to Reach Your Writing Goals

Happy Writing!

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