Writing Advice: Getting Out of Being Blocked

This is the second in a series called writing advice which would be a compilation of different writing advice I have found over the course of my life. This part will be about how to jump into writing faster and how to stop being blocked. This will be based on tips from a talk by Cindy Meyers.

How to Get into Writing Mode Faster

  • Have a ritual
    • Light a candle
    • Have a “soundtrack” for your book. Every time you turn on the music it can get you into writing mode
    • Wear a certain piece of clothing every time you write, like a hat, a jacket, a scarf or certain socks.
    • Write in the same place every time
  • After you start writing for the day, write some notes on what you have to write the next time you sit down. Resist the temptation to write the scene. Write just enough so that you can immediately jump back into the story when you have fifteen minutes to write or so on break or Lunch or waiting.

Different Ways to Get Out of Being Blocked

  • Have a rough plot so you know where you are going next.
  • If you have a scene where you are blocked, write out of order to a different scene later in the book. It can be scary at first but the book doesn’t have to be written in order.
  • Use a character interview to get out of the block. What is one thing your protagonist would never do? Make them do it. Interview your protagonists, main characters, and antagonists.
  • Make a list of ten things that could happen next to get you out of your block. Ignore the first few: they are obvious. The middle and last ideas are going to be more original. Use these to write your book. You don’t have to write all 10 if you don’t have any more ideas, but write as many as you can.
  • Don’t label yourself. Saying you are a “slow writer” puts you in a box and doesn’t allow you to reach your full potential. Your brain listens to these messages you tell yourself and acts accordingly. Reprogram what you tell yourself.
  • Don’t keep working until perfection. Embrace the idea of the rough draft. Just focus on finishing the first draft, then work on polishing the draft. Don’t edit the life out of the book, though. Do big edits then small edits before leaving the rest to your editor. Rely on their eyes. Don’t do everything yourself.
  • Don’t let a psychological block get to you. A memory of a bad critique, fear of failure or success, fear of what your family’s reaction will be when your book is published are all examples. If you need to, get some counseling to talk out these problems. You may only need one appointment to talk out these problems. Do what you need to do.
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