You can’t think yourself out of a writing block, you have to write yourself out of a thinking block. — John Rogers, Kung Fu Monkey, 06-25-11
Are you stuck on a particular passage in your writing? Don’t worry—it happens to all of us. There are many ways to tackle the problem. As usual, some are more productive than others. Some hints:
- DON’T throw up your hands and quit.
- DON’T beat your head against it until blood drips off your chin. You could short out your keyboard.
- DO take a short break. Get a snack or a cup of hot tea while listening to music. Take a walk outside. Call a friend to chat about good things—not to complain about your problems.
- DO try to get a fresh perspective.
- Stand in front of the mirror and explain what you want to write to yourself. Record what you say on your phone. If you don’t know how to do this, do a search for “how to record a voice memo.” Make two or three recordings and listen to yourself. Where does it break down? How can you fix it?
- If you’re writing fiction, write the scene from another character’s point of view. Try using a character who has opposing views. Describe it from the POV of a stranger looking through an open door. Have the character tell about it five years later.
- Write the passage as fast as you can in five different ways. Read them aloud and highlight the good parts of each.
- DO let it simmer in the back of your mind if the above suggestions don’t work. Work on another project today and think about it again when you turn off the light tonight. Oddly enough, you can sometimes untie the tangles while you sleep. When you wake up in the morning, try thinking it through before you open your eyes and let the new day chase your dream thoughts away.
- DO skip the passage and pick up the narrative in the next chapter. My first drafts often have a couple of blank lines with a note to self: Bridge Out – need connecting paragraph. When you forget it for weeks or months until your first revision, it’s amazing how much easier it is. You already know what comes on either side of it.
Do you have a trick to jump start your writing? Please share in the comments.