Tips to help you move creatively beyond Writers’ Block by Storyteller Helen M Sant
I am constantly exploring ways to get beyond “stuckness” – my word for the ever lamented “writers’ block.”
Some people say writers’ block doesn’t really exist. They could be right. If we write, we bring ourselves into the mix. To do so with honesty and clarity means that, surely, writers’ block is just a resistance within us? In that sense, it doesn’t really exist then.
But of course, when you are trying to do one of the following: get started writing, express what you want to say, or actually move on with an existing plot, writer’s block certainly seems very real! Here are some tips from me to address each of the above.
1) Getting started writing
Often it seems there’s no time to write. Life gets in the way. If you’re fortunate enough to be wealthy and a man or lady of leisure, you may find plenty of time. But many of us have to work or have other responsibilities as well as writing.
Even if you work full time, though, you can identify the things you’re doing, when you could be writing instead. Of course, I don’t mean eating! And everyone deserves a life outside of writing and creativity. But perhaps just start with five minutes a day or even five minutes a week (if that’s all you can truly manage), instead of watching that pointless video of cats skate boarding on Youtube, for instance and build from there.
Don’t think too much! That can be a killer to actually getting started. So set regular time aside. Don’t pay too much attention to the idea you must write every day. That works for “them” whoever “they” are. But you are not them; you are you, in all your glorious perfections, imperfections, dreams and wishes.
2) Expressing yourself
It happens to the most articulate. We get tongue tied. How do I say this? I know what I want to happen next in my story, but how do I describe it?
Well you could try using a thesaurus or online or paper dictionary to find words. Then again you could take a break and read something totally unconnected. The vocabulary or writing of others may inspire you.
You could perhaps travel somewhere and eavesdrop on conversations! You could also use your existing surroundings to trigger words or phrases, exploring the senses, relating to everyday objects or recent situations. All you need sometimes, is one trigger and it can spark off a whole passage/chapter/poem. So take a walk round your house/apartment/room, stare out the window, listen to some inspiring music. Find some stimulation for the senses.
3) Moving on an existing plot
I love getting that Eureka moment when I’ve been wondering what happens next, and suddenly it comes to me. Often if you’re stuck, it’s because you need to look back on what you’ve created before. A bit like life really! Look back at what you’ve already written, to see how you got to the point you’re at.
If there’s a disparity in where you are now, maybe you needed something earlier. In writing, it’s so important to make every word count. In the novel, for example, every scene has to mean something, to keep the story moving forward.
A great tip I read recently online, is to think from the end backwards! That’s a good one, if, like me, you can get down a lot of your plot, but struggle with “the middle bit.” I think a lot of writers struggle with “the middle bit!”