It happens to all of us. We start with what seems like a great idea and part way through our writing grinds to a halt. Some people call this writer’s block. I’d rather not name it as an illness or condition, but simply admit that for the moment, or even several moments or even days, I’m stuck.
Here are six ways you can break through your writer’s block or stuckness:
Create a purpose for the piece or reread the one you started with. I believe any writing project can benefit from a 10 word purpose statement. They are hugely helpful when I get stuck, and if I get stuck and haven’t written one, I find writing one will often get me writing freely again.
Read the piece out loud. It’s amazing how many problems reading a piece out loud can solve. Your ear can hear things your eye won’t see because you’re the one doing the writing. Just re-reading it over and over again doesn’t seem to solve it as well or as quickly as the sound of your voice reading slowly enough for real understanding.
Do something else, almost anything will work. Spending hours staring at the problem rarely does anything helpful. Switch projects. Do the dishes. Take a shower. Sweep the walk. Take a walk. Movement seems particularly effective. I think that doing something else frees the unconscious to work out a solution for us.
Sleep on it. This is one of those cliche sayings that often works. I find that if, before going to bed, I ask my mind to come up with a solution I’m even more likely to wake up with a new way to view and probably solve the problem. The caveat here is to let the problem go and sleep, not toss and turn over it.
Write the next part. Skip over the problem and write the next part or some other portion. Often this will also free your unconscious to figure out what needs to happen with the part you’re having trouble with.
Write your way through it. Similar to writing the next part, the idea is to keep writing until you’ve worked through it. You’ll probably have a lot of editing and rewriting to do on this section, but that’s better than not getting through it at all.
Start with a new paper and write about the problem you’re having. Take a blank piece of paper, or open a new file and start writing about the problem you’re having. Just free associate and write anything that comes up. As you explore what’s bothering you, you’re likely to stumble into the way to solve it.
How do you solve getting stuck when writing?