How writers get unstuck differs from writer to writer – but there are common solutions. These five ways to find flow are from Deanna Proach, a successful novelist who just completed her second book.
Before her tips, a quip:
“People have writer’s block not because they can’t write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.” ~ Anna Quindlen.
We all worry that our work will not be good enough, that the right words won’t jump out of our heads and onto the computer screen. If we stopped worrying about our writing, writer’s block wouldn’t exist. We need to realize that worrying accomplishes nothing and instead focus our energy on writing.
If you need more than a few tips to get unstuck, read Unstuck: A Supportive and Practical Guide to Working Through Writer’s Block. Jane Anne Staw uncovers the practical and emotional reasons for writer’s block, and offers powerful ways to get writing again.
Before Deanna’s tips for finding flow, here’s what my fellow writers said when I asked for a synonym for “writer’s block” on Twitter:
- “OPPORTUNITY!!” ~ @RomanticShorts
- “Idea constipation.” ~ @Queryaddict
- “Nap time.” ~ @Gabryyl
- “Inertia,” “no ideas,” “stuck,” “stuck for ideas,” “brain dead,” “vacationitis,” and “inability to write” ~ @MichelleRafter
- “Author’s stoppage.” ~ @HeiddiZ
- “Death.” ~ @coffeeandchopin
Writer’s block is seen as everything from opportunity to death — isn’t that interesting?
What Writers Do When They’re Stuck – 5 Ways to Find Flow
Guest Post – Deanna Proach
Here you are, sitting in front of a blank computer screen. You may have a three-word title for your article typed at the top of your page, or you may not. Nevertheless, you have a great idea for an article, but where do you begin? This is where ideas flood your brain. All these ideas are great, but for some reason, you cannot transfer them from your brain to the computer.
You want your article to be superb, one that editors and readers will not resist. So, you write and re-write your opening sentence over and over again, trying to make your sentence catchy and grammatically perfect. When you fail to come up with a blockbuster sentence, you start to get frustrated.
Here are a few ways to find flow in your writing…
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Eat regularly and eat foods that are rich in protein, carbohydrates and fiber. You should also supplement your diet with vitamin supplements. You should have at least three meals a day. If you are unable to do this, have your main meal in the middle of the day and supplement it with snacks throughout the rest of the day. Remember, the brain needs food for thought and for energy. A healthy diet will help your brain work faster and for a longer period of time. You can alleviate writers block just by maintaining a healthy diet.
If you’re not physically healthy, read 7 Health Tips for Writers Who Don’t Get Enough Exercise.
Be Physically Active
When you start to get frustrated, leave your computer for an hour, go for a walk, a jog or a bike ride. Do any activity that will momentarily take your mind off your work. Physical activity will increase the blood flow in your body, which in turn, stimulates energy. When you are energetic, you will be able to think much more clearly and creatively — and write in flow. Different writers do different things when they’re stuck, but most say that physical activity helps.
Do Background Reading on Your Article Topic
Do some background reading on the topic you are going to write about. Give yourself at least a half-an hour reading time. If you are not too familiar with the subject, you will need to know about it before you can write about it! Ideas and writing flow much smoother when you are knowledgeable about the subject matter.
Write an Outline
Sometimes the blaring computer screen generates writers block. If this happens, grab a blank piece of paper or two and create an outline. List the main points you plan to write about in order of how the body of the article will flow. It might even be helpful to write your introduction. Sometimes ideas flow much smoother when you are not staring at a bright computer screen. Overcoming writer’s block is about getting unstuck, which can involve changing your writing tools.
Write First, Edit Later
Writers block happens when you think too much about what to write and worry too much about writing a fantastic article. Worrying about the outcome of your article causes stress. When your brain undergoes stress, its thinking process shuts down. Do not do this to yourself. Stress will not help you to write an impressive article. Besides, it is completely unnecessary. Write first, edit later. Besides, you will have to go over it and make corrections more than twice before your article is good enough to submit to editors. Your brain is most relaxed when you are not thinking too much. Ideas will flow and the next thing you know, you will have written that breakthrough article.
If you follow these five simple steps, you will be able to overcome writers block and the pain it causes. For more ways to find flow when you’re stuck, read 5 Writing Tips for When Your Mind is Blank
Fellow writers, what do you do when you’re stuck? How do you find the flow?
Deanna Proach is a novelist. Her first historical suspense book, ‘Day of Revenge’ was released by Inkwater Press. She currently resides in Sechelt, British Columbia where she is writing her second book, ‘To be Maria’.
Deanna also wrote Writing Historical Fiction? How to Write a Book Set in the Past, here on Quips & Tips for Successful Writers.