By Matthew Schulz
When the words don’t flow – for whatever the reason – you don’t have to just accept it.
Drive straight through that writer’s block, and it’ll crumble like a road sign under an 18-wheeler.
Every writer struggles to put words on the page from time to time. Life gets busy, or your mind becomes preoccupied, or your eyes won’t stay open. Or perhaps it’s just one of those nights were things just never get rolling. By shaking things up – even just a little bit – you can get yourself back on track.
Here are some ideas:
Read, read, read: No explanation necessary. Reading inspires writing, especially reading good stuff.
Seek other inspiration: Fire up the iPod and let the music flow. Go to a museum and see art. Great songs, great paintings, great sculptures can inspire as much creativity and spark as many ideas as reading a great book can.
Look for writing prompts: Writing websites, magazines and books are loaded with short snippets designed to get ideas flowing when they haven’t been. Search online or just go down to the bookstore and flip through the latest Writer’s Digest – there’s always a new prompt in every month’s issue – or one of the many books that are nothing but page after page of prompts. Some are no more complicated than this: “Describe your kitchen table.” Others may go a little deeper. They can all help.
Get active: Sometimes some old-fashioned physical exertion can get your creativity flowing, too. Punch a speed bag. Shoot baskets. Personally, I’ve begun to enjoy running around my neighborhood with my iPod blaring, just to clear my head. Perhaps a lyric that you hear may strike you. Perhaps a busted window you see on your run with start your mind racing. It could be anything.
Have some family fun time: As a dad, I know that my family inspires my writing endlessly. The smallest things that will be said or done will trigger an idea: the fact that your son hates broccoli, the fact that your wife’s boss made an inappropriate comment to a coworker or even the fact that your daughter can’t pronounce the word hamburger without it sounding like something that comes out of your nose.
Go some place that you’ve never been: It doesn’t have to be a trip around the world – although it’d be awesome if it was. Sit under your dining room table. Climb up on your roof. Walk through a part of town that you’ve never seen. Eat someplace that you’d never go. New experiences spark new ideas. Just open yourself up to them.
Just keep writing and writing and writing and writing and writing: I’ve done this frequently. Just tell yourself, “I’m not getting up until I get something done.” Refuse to remove your fingers from the keyboard. Type gibberish. Type curses. Type the same word 52 times in a row. Put down exactly how angry you are that you can’t come up with any ideas. More often than not, the sheer act of forcing yourself to keep writing will spur some sort of emotion which will trigger some sort of idea which will be written about passionately – if not brilliantly. Then that idea may trigger your next great idea. You won’t know until you try.
That’s true with any of this. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations – and we know that writer’s block is stressful – and thus everyone has different ways of handling them.
Just know this: You can handle it. You will beat writer’s block. You will have that next great idea. And by taking action, you’ll soon feel like that giant truck barreling down the highway.
How have you dealt with writer’s block? Share your success stories and your best tips in our comments section below.
Matthew Schulz has written for the Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Associated Press and American Banker. He is currently writing his second novel and aspiring toward his lifelong dream of becoming a published author of fiction. His day job has him working as a Managing Editor at CreditCards.com, where he helps lead an award-winning news team and has even helped coordinate a video town hall with the White House. You can follow him on Twitter @matthewschulz and learn more about him at MattSchulz.com.