Writers Block: Overcome Procrastination with these 7 Tips
Is writers block causing procrastination and making you too stuck to write the next word? Take heart. You’re not the Lone Ranger.
Even bestsellers get the Cursor-Blinking Blues. The trick to overcoming writer's block is to discover what techniques work best for you, then diligently practice those writing tips as part of your daily writing routine so you can overcome procrastination.
So how does the ol' deWolfe Gal whittle away her mental mountains until they're molehills?
By taking action!
Here are 7 writing tips from my daily practice that will help you overcome writers block and beat procrastination:
#1 Write down ANYTHING
No matter how pathetic, whiny, ridiculous, or flat out awful the idea may seem, the first writing tip is to WRITE IT DOWN. Let yourself free-associate. Brainstorm. Forget crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s. They’ll get their turn later, when you’re polishing.
#2 Start in the middle
This is my favorite trick for beating writers block. Start in the middle of the scene, the chapter, or the book. Write what you already know about your characters, what they’ll do and what they’ll say. Forget that you’re supposed to be writing “the next scene.” Writing in chronological order can be stifling, especially if your brain’s on fire, ready to write something a hundred pages from now. Give in. Do it! In my fourth novel, Scoundrel for Hire, I didn’t write Chapter Five until I’d finished Chapter Twelve. Why? Because it took my brain 200 extra pages to figure out what plot development linked Chapters Four and Six. But hey, if I’d waited for the inspiration to strike me in chronological order, I guarantee you, I'd still be the Queen of Procrastination, and Scoundrel for Hire would never have been published.
#3 Circle what you don’t like
That's right: circle it, BUT KEEP ON WRITING. I know, I know. It just kills you to see “blue” instead of the more inspired “aquamarine” staring back at you from the screen, but let the nuisance go. Edit only after you’ve finished the scene. Otherwise, the Procrastination Monster will trounce you again.
#4 Think out loud
Don’t worry if anyone thinks you’re Loony Tunes. (You’ve declared yourself a writer. News of your insanity won’t surprise anyone.) Explain your ideas to your cat. Tell your peony bush. Talk to some saintly person who won’t distract you with gossip about Aunt Margie or her bozo boss. Eventually, ideas that refused to pour out of your keyboard will tumble out of your mouth and voila! Your writer’s block dissolves.
#5 Talk into a tape recorder
This alternative works well if you don’t have a cat or a peony bush. It also works well if, like mine, your pesky brain wakes you at 3 a.m., burning with something to write. (Why my brain can’t burn with something to write during my regularly scheduled writing hours remains one of the great Mysteries of the Universe.) The good news is that some of my favorite scenes evolved from those garbled, frustrated, dead-of-night confessions to an electronic ear. I overcame my writers block, and those books really did get published!
#6 Decide on a reward for each writing milestone
After blasting through your writers block, I recommend a MOUNTAIN of chocolate with a champagne chaser, followed by a massage. (Now you know why I love to beat procrastination so much!) Once you accomplish your writing goal, give yourself your reward. (Of course, such rewards can get a bit fattening if your goal is to write only one page per week! Try to stretch your writing boundaries to 2 pages per week, okay?)
#7 NEVER EVER punish yourself
When you're dealing with writer's block, be gentle with yourself. Procrastination isn’t laziness, it’s a subconscious attack called Fear. But you’re not alone. Even published authors get scared, folks. We’re scared that the current book won’t be as good as the last one, that our editors will laugh at our sophomoric prose, that the reviewers will pan our heart-felt babblings, that readers will ignite a bonfire with our books . . .
You get the idea.
Face it: laying your soul on the line, word by word, is a scary business. It doesn’t get easier after you’ve snagged your first publishing contract. So get used to it. You’re a writer. You’re gonna live with lots of fear. Write something anyway.
In the immortal words of Erasmus, “The desire to write grows with writing."
Writing is the best way to blast through writer's block and beat procrastination.