7 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

By Patty Smith Hall

You’re plugging along on your manuscript, everything is going great and then all of a sudden, you hit a brick wall. Every ounce of creativity has suddenly dried up! If you’re like me, you go back a few pages to see where your story was going and it all seems okay but you just can’t figure out what to do. That’s okay. Maybe you just need to rest on it.  Only it’s the next morning or a week later and you still don’t have a clue what to write next. You, my friend, have writer’s block. So what can you do to get your novel back on track? Here are seven tips that have helped me in the past.

 1) Keep writing—I know. If you could write, wouldn’t you be doing that already? But writing something that you know is not your best beats writing absolutely nothing any day. Even writing that stinks up the room is better than nothing at all because you can work with it. Mold it into a fantastic piece. This is the time to remember that editing is our friend.

2) Work on another project—I keep a folder of ideas I’ve put aside for that day in the future when I’m ready to write my next book. Or maybe there’s a blog post I need to do or a verse of Scripture I read that I’d like use in a devotional. There are some of my projects I work on when I’m having trouble with a story. That change of direction can jolt my creativity in a different direction so that when I do go back to my original manuscript, I’m seeing it in a different light.

3) Change your location—When I was younger, I struggled with depression at times. During one particularly bad episode, a very wise man told me I needed to change my vocation and my location but I’ve discovered that even doing one of these can make the world of difference in my outlook. The same holds true in my writing. While I can’t change my vocation (writing,) a change of scenery does wonders for the imagination. Personally, I go to a nearby park, but I know of writers who frequently write at Starbucks or another coffee place. One writer I know writes her books in the parking lot of a local McDonalds. Being out in God’s creation helps spark our own creativity.

4) Offer to brainstorm with a friend—I love to brainstorm a new story with a friend. All those fresh new ideas being thrown out there, some good, some awful but lots of fun. And the amazing thing? I always walk away from one of those sessions with new ideas for my own work!

5) Take the day off—Sometimes, your brain is just a pile of mush and what you really need is some downtime. I always try to take Sunday as a day of rest but even that might not be enough. So take a day for yourself. Grab a book off of your to-be-read pile and sit out in the sunshine. Go to the movies. Have lunch with non-writing friends. Give yourself a break. Recharging yourself will get the ideas flowing before you know it.

6) Clean your house—This may sound crazy to you but I swear, this really works, especially if you’re like me and have a cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness way of thinking. So when I get bogged down with a storyline, I grab my cleaning supplies and start scrubbing. It never ceases to amaze me the ideas I come up with during that time, especially when I’m cleaning all things porcelain. I believe it’s because God loves a humble spirit and there’s nothing quite as humbling as scrubbing a toilet.

7) Pray—Every morning before I start writing, I try to spend time with the Lord. It doesn’t have to be long—just ten or fifteen minutes, but I find that on those days, I generally don’t have trouble blowing pass my word count. I truly believe it’s because I’ve turned over my writing to Him—it’s His to do with as He wants, to use me as He sees fit.