I am sure we’ve all had that feeling, at one moment, we are in the zone, we’re in the flow, swooping victoriously from one character or section in our plot, to another, the development of the plot in our heads so far ahead of our fingers, we wonder how we are ever going to be able to catch up!
And then the next moment, the unbelievable happens. We are like, zip! – we can’t seem to be able to remember where we were planning to go next. You could be working on a documentary or your favorite guidelines on how to write a screenplay, and suddenly, blank, where do I go from here?
This feeling has an official name and it is known as writer’s block, and if you are in any other industry and you do not have an endemic or widespread anomaly; welcome to the writing industry.
The writer’s block has been known to stump even the most elite writer, it sometimes takes years to complete a 1500-page manuscript.
The following are ways I have managed to tackle this malaise, and as I keep on reading, especially areas in my field, I seem to come up with more and more ideas.
- Write all you can when faced with a title or idea
You know the famous Eureka! moment that Archimedes had? This runs along the same lines.
Whenever you are faced with a title or an idea for a literary piece, in most cases, ideas start flowing on how you should go about it. This is your brain’s way of coming up with ways to tackle the problem before you. When these ideas come, without flair or fanfare, simply write them down. Do not stop to evaluate if they are coherent or not. Simply write all the ideas that come into your mind this moment until you experience physical (I mean, literally) exhaustion.
- When writing, do not stop to edit or do anything else
The duration in which you are writing is similar to being in the flow. Your brain is excitedly coming up the answers to the question, in this context, responses to the title. At this time, do not stop to edit your work, or check if it sounds right. You know that feeling of wanting to check something else i.e. the mail when writing? It is just simply a way of procrastinating. Keep writing until all the ideas have been exhausted and some more; you can come to the editing or the flowery part later.
- Brainstorm a beginning, a middle and an end
Similar to the way buildings are built or architects work, you could design a blueprint to see how your writing would go from the beginning to the end. What this does is it helps you access ideas that guide you toward the conclusion. So if at any time, you get lost along the way, you can identify the tools and knowledge that would take you to the already, pre-determined end.
For longer manuscripts, it probably would be difficult to foresee the end from the beginning. Regardless, you should understand that the end can be changed. So simply have the end in mind. Begin writing toward that end. Whenever you desire to arrive at a different destination, it wouldn’t be difficult to simply change the direction.
So maybe you are working on your character archetypes for that new novel, or you are crafting the direction of your article, simply brainstorm what the end would look like, and let your brain take you there.
- Set a target for the number of words you would like to write each day
When we are given a project, we certainly have deadlines in which to have these delivered. It is similar to projects we come up ourselves. We would have to set deadlines to determine the number of words we would want to write each day, and discipline ourselves to meet that. Writer of children books, Enid Blyton, who is famous for penning down an estimated 600 books, was known to have completed a book in four days!
After some time, these discipline would become a habit.
- Persist until you have had a breakthrough
When you come up with a block, the immediate response is usually to stop and do something else. If you press on, similar to weight lifting, this could be the time you come up with that unique, novel idea.
- Take a break and do something unrelated
I know I just said earlier that you should persist even if ideas aren’t forthcoming. However, that would serve you and then no more. Once you feel you’ve gone as far as you can on your last mileage, you can take a break. This would offer you the opportunity to refuel, while your brain percolates on the activity at hand.
- The objective is PRODUCTIVITY not PERFECTION
Most of the time, we as writers, we tend to want to cull out the most perfect writing, or the next masterpiece. So often, we dwell and dwell on our words, and the arrangement of our sentences. The opposite of the popular quote “the enemy of the best is the good” would serve here. While not saying we should accept mediocrity in our performances, we need to understand that we would never produce our best work, we would never produce our most ebullient masterpiece. Our best work is within us. It is inevitable that we would continually being in the vein of thought, “That was my best piece so far!”
There is no perfect writing. There is just the MESSAGE.
- In your spare time, read on your field, and some more
I know that in our busy, and constantly moving world today, this might seem like a herculean task, but I would have to remind you: The only reason you are this far in your profession is because you READ some information sometime back.
When we read, we access different parts of our minds that normally would lie dormant because there are no stimulants. So you should read books in your field, and sometimes for fun, read on unrelated subjects that interests you, and arouses your curiosity. Another great solution is to look up references, which you can do on Samples.Edusson.com where you can find amazing examples of articles related to pretty much every subject you can think of.
Working around the above tips has helped me keep up with my writing commitments, and focus on my dream of having my writing empire. Looking forward to hearing from you!