Every writer I know has dealt with writer’s block at one time or another. The first few times I experienced it, I began to doubt that I would ever write anything worth showing to others, that I was wasting my time. The discouragement prompted me to take a break from writing for over two years. Since that happened before I had Internet access, it was difficult to search for remedies. I didn’t have anyone to approach about it. It just boiled in my brain and wouldn’t relent.
Now, after reading the experiences of many successful authors, I know I’m not alone. If anything, writer’s block made me part of a huge community of “the afflicted” who can all sympathize with my predicament. Always something happened to cure my writer’s block, at least temporarily. A brief respite was usually all I needed to start writing something again, even if it took a little longer to get back to the project where my problem began. While there was no identical remedy for everyone, consensus told me to keep writing. After all, it’s the determination to keep going that often defines successful people of all kinds.
Keep writing, that sounded simple enough, but often it required a tremendous amount of writing before the block would completely disintegrate. None of the writing involved the project I worked on when the block manifested, so patience was essential. I wrote journal entries, starts of new projects, and even stream-of-consciousness ramblings. At first, it seemed like wasted time. But later I realized it helped me hone and maintain my voice. It was rehearsal writing, so I could seamlessly pick up where I had paused in my difficult project. It allowed me to keep my writing muscles limber.
Changes of scenery often help me, even if I go somewhere writing will be nearly impossible. Crowds of people offer inspirations for character details. A hike can offer not only beautiful scenery but nature’s sounds that my ears find novel and stimulating. Even the aromas from the mall food court might jog a memory that can help me move the plot or add atmosphere to a story.
Reading or doing something tedious instigates my imagination to distract me with interesting, even bizarre ideas. I have a ready supply of technical manuals at my disposal, and nothing makes my imagination shake the cage bars like computer repair instructions. Doing dishes, mowing the lawn, and folding laundry often have the same results if I try to concentrate on those tasks. My daydreams are often seeds for stories or characters. I’m making my ADD work in my favor.
Did you know that four out of five doctors recommend ice cream for curing writer’s block? Well I totally made that up, but I find that frigid ambrosia elevates my mood. It’s completely contrary to the feeling writer’s block gives me. The more decadent the ice cream, the better it seems to work. I’ll throw chocolate chips, nuts, various syrups, and cookies on top if my writer’s block is more like reinforced concrete. Ice cream is my writer’s block jackhammer! If you’re lactose intolerant, people will want to give you plenty of space to write in peace, too.
After indulging in ice cream, I might feel like my body needs some exercise to counteract all that sugar. I often find exercise stimulates my imagination because I would rather do anything than exercise. Activities that burn significant amounts of calories often bore me to tears. Keeping my mind engaged on something else, like a writing project, helps me tolerate the tedious exercise that is good for my body. Luckily the increased blood flow and movement always help me think better. I might not be free of my writer’s block when I finish my workout, but more often than not I will have plugged a plot hole, discovered a character’s motivation, or remembered a detail that will strengthen my setting.
Do you get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? More importantly, what’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Leave me a comment and let me know your answer to one or all of these!