Most people have experienced writer’s block at one time or another, regardless of whether you’re a professional writer or not.
Whether it’s a novel, poem, essay, or even an email or letter, sometimes the words just won’t come.
To help you get over writer’s block, we’ve gone through some answers from published authors and writers to the question “What are some tips to get rid of writer’s block?” on Quora.
Here are 7 of their best tips for overcoming writer’s block:
When you can’t think of what to write, you can get your mind going by answering the “five W’s,” namely, “Who, what, where, when, and why,” writes K.M. Weiland, an author of historical and speculative fiction, on Quora.
“I’ve filled notebooks upon notebooks with my why-ing and what if-ing, especially during the outlining stages,” she writes. “This is a process that has never failed me.”
By journaling and writing down your thoughts in a stream-of-consciousness mode, you get your writing muscle going rather than just sitting and fuming in frustration, Weiland says.
Weiland also writes that if you “make it a habit” to stop yourself mid-sentence or mid-idea when you’re writing, and leave yourself a few “loose threads,” you’ll have something to start on the next day, rather than sitting around waiting for the inspiration to come to you.
Instead of brainstorming when you sit down to write, take the time to come up with ideas in between writing sessions.
Weiland, for example, walks down to her mailbox every day after writing and uses that time to “run over scenes” she plans to work on the next day, “identify potential problems, and just generally form a plan of attack.”
Since brainstorming and writing are two different processes, Weiland says it’s helpful to break them up and brainstorm when you don’t absolutely need a computer or notebook in front of you. It’s also a good idea to do this when you’re walking or commuting.
“Writing is a muscle,” writes Brendan Mcnulty, the founder of nownovel.com, on Quora. “Without exercise it will atrophy,” he adds.
Writing is also a skill, and it’s best used as regularly as possible. “Make it a point to sit down every day for an allotted amount of time,” writes Weiland on Quora.
Similar to exercising or practicing an instrument, you should write even when you don’t necessarily feel like it. “The muse only inhabits minds that are ready and waiting for it,” Weiland writes.
“Take a walk,” says Andy Weir, a science fiction writer and author of “The Martian.”
Recent research by Stanford University indicates that walking — whether indoors or outdoors — is excellent for getting your creative juices flowing. It is common knowledge that a little aerobic exercise is good for concentration, focus and energy, but walking actually increases creative thinking.
The study found that walking indoors or outdoors were equally beneficial, contrary to what the researchers predicted. They designed a set of four experiments in which participants would walk outdoors and walk on a treadmill facing a “boring wall,” and then take a series of “divergent thinking” creativity tests, where they were required to come up with “novel and original” solutions to problems.
The study found that compared to sitting, walking boosted creativity by 60%.
“Start writing. Anything really, however bad it may seem,” says Matt McDonald, a former speechwriter and creative director at www.mypromovideos.com.
One useful tip he learned from his gig as a speechwriter to the Governor of Massachusetts was to edit rather than cut. By this he means move text to the bottom of your page rather than cutting it entirely, which will create the impression to yourself that you’re removing text, when in actuality you can use those “scraps” later.
Studies have shown that immersing yourself in nature, such as by taking a hike or going for a walk in the park, can increase creative thinking. Other psychological benefits include increased short-term memory, sharper thinking, stress relief, and restored mental energy.