It’s inevitable: eventually, every writer hits a rut. Whether you’ve lost steam on a project, gotten stuck, aren’t feeling inspired, or are floundering between projects, it feels terrible when you’re creatively blocked. Often referred to as writer’s block, it’s really an umbrella term that captures so many different ways writers can struggle. While some blocks are bumps that you can just work through, a bigger creative block can be a challenge that stops all productivity for days, months, or even years.
While breaks can be beneficial to the creative process, if you need to get work done and are really struggling there are some things you can try to break through the block and get back to writing.
Build (or Rebuild) a Regular Writing Habit
A regular writing schedule is the key to success for many authors. It helps not only to set aside time each day to write but it also trains your brain to switch into creative mode. If you’ve gotten out of the writing habit or find it difficult to work regularly, scheduling writing time and building a regular writing habit may kick your writer’s block to the curb.
First, you should select a time that works well with your other responsibilities and your own creative needs. Stephen King writes first thing in the morning. Many writers with office jobs use their lunch breaks to work on their projects or if they’re a night owl, they scribble their words before bed. Try a few different times to see what works best for you.
Next, you should select a frequency for your scheduled writing time. The old common advice is that you must write every day. If that works for you, great! If not, throw it to the curb and schedule it yourself. Maybe you can dedicate time on certain days of the week, or you want to be a weekend warrior who dedicates an entire Saturday to writing. Just choose a time that works for you, that you can maintain regularly.
To really help keep the writer’s block away, build some ritual into your writing time. Brew a cup of tea or coffee. Get a treat you enjoy. Sit in the same place, open your notebook or word processing program. While they seem insignificant, these “getting ready” steps signal to your brain that it’s time to write, which will help you switch into creative mode.
Whether you’re stuck on your novel or the well of ideas is dry, you’ll have an easier time getting out of your rut if you continue to work creatively. Get a notebook or journal or just create a new document, set a timer, and free write. You can do stream of consciousness writing or use writing prompts to kickstart your session. There are no rules to what you write or how you write.
The freedom of a freewriting session is perfect to kickstart new ideas or help silence an internal critique that’s putting to much pressure on you. If you’re looking for new inspiration, you may find the perfect story or character idea in your freewriting exercise. Try these plot generators to help give you an idea.
Let Yourself Be Playful
Writing games can help breath new creativity into a stale project or give inspiration for new stories. These can be literal board games that require storytelling or just writing exercises that allow you to be playful and take away any pressure to meet deadlines or expectations.
Language is a Virus has a ton of games and idea generators you can give a try.
Check out some of our favorite games and tools to destroy writer’s block. I like to keep a few on hand to pull out when I’m feeling really stuck.
“Let Go” and Read
Take the time that you’re dedicating to writing and instead of staring in frustration at a blank page or screen, turn it into reading time. Pick a favorite book or collection to revisit or try out that exciting new book sitting in your “to be read” pile. Exposing yourself to writing you love and enjoy can help get the creative juices flowing again and remind you why you enjoy writing in the first place. Once you’ve filled your creative reserves and feel inspired again, pick up your pen and get back to work.
Take a Break for Other Creative Hobbies
To be totally honest, there will be times that you are so burnt out you cannot write. Usually, the best thing to do it take a break. While you may want to veg out and binge Netflix, make sure you’re using some of that writing time to pursue other creative hobbies. Often we start writing because it’s our favorite hobby and it can easily start to feel like a “job,” especially when you have deadlines and editors to please.
Making time for other creative hobbies can really help you reset your exhausted writing brain and help you flex those muscles in a different way. Drawing, crocheting, gardening, and crafts are great hobbies that give you a different way to express yourself and also create a satisfying end product.
Eventually, you’ll start to feel the creative pull to return to writing. Don’t drop your other hobbies completely! Keeping some variety in your creative routine will help prevent writing burn out in the future.
Looking for more ways to inspire you and avoid writer’s block? Read these inspirational writing quotes. Check out these tools to destroy writer’s block. Learn how to set writing goals you can actually achieve. These movies about writers will give your brain a writing break and inspire you at the same time. These inspirational books on writing will remind you about what you love about the craft. And these quirky pens will add some fun to your writing routine. Make sure to follow these healthy living tips for writers.