Unblocking Writer’s Block

By Liz LeSavoy

Don’t-Be-a-Slave-to-Writer’s-BlockEveryone gets writer’s block. At least that’s what I tell myself every time I find myself staring at my computer, my hands poised over the keys, waiting for the brilliance to pop into my head and flow out my fingertips. Sometimes the problem is coming up with a fresh idea. Sometimes I can’t find the right way to bridge two essential parts of a story. Sometimes I know exactly what I want to say but just can’t find the right words. The worst is when I’m not even sure what I want to say in the first place!

So, what to do? Different things work for different people. Here’s a sample of my own solutions that help push me back into the cradle of creativity.

  • I take a break. Put it down. Walk away. Sometimes a few minutes in another room, without my own words, or lack or words, burning holes in my retinas, can nudge my brain past its speed bump. Sometimes my creative juices need to stew longer, like a good soup, in order to develop some richness.
  • I skip over the problem. Ignore it. Pretend it’s not there. My denial approach is great when I struggle for a word or phrase. And it’s particularly useful when trying to bridge parts of a story. Often, once I’ve written what’s on the “other side” of the problem area, the problem solves itself. Finally, good justification for procrastination!
  • I step away from my manuscript and get a blank sheet of paper and a pen. The old fashioned girl in me simply thinks better with a pen in my hand. The blank page is where I brainstorm, unencumbered by my own manuscript problems.
  • I read! Lots. Reading a good kid’s book is such a great inspiration. Even reading an adult book helps me. The words and message of other authors always serve to stimulate my own.

Are you sensing a common theme here? Walk away. Ignore the problem. Flat out writing avoidance. Yup. By distancing myself from whatever I’m working on, I get out of my own way. I put some space between my brain and my book. What I mean is…. Um. Um. Oh good grief! It’s not coming to me. I’ve just run into a terrible case of writer’s block!

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?  What helps you get through it?  Share your tips in the comments section.

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About Liz LeSavoy

A member of SCBWI and two terrific writing groups, I write picture books and middle grade novels. I love picture books because they're the port of entry, the first exciting stop on every kid’s reading journey. As for middle grade, who can resist the discovery and distress, the exuberance and embarrassment, the humor and hilarity of those wondrous years!

7 thoughts on “Unblocking Writer’s Block

  1. Pingback: Writer’s Block, and How it Affects My Relationship | We Write Together!

  2. Liz, great post. I particularly loved your phrase “into the cradle of creativity”. I never felt I had writers’ block. I can work on some aspect of my picture book writing, revising, working on rewriting sentences in many different ways, or doing marketing or reading about writing. I feel that’s all part of my life as an author. Maybe I never thought about it…and just went on to something else!

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  3. Great post! It’s so hard to walk away for a few minutes during precious writing time, but I agree that sometimes it’s the only way to get over a speed bump in the story. :)

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  4. Hi Liz, Great first post! I actually tried writing notes about character and motivation by hand on a pad of paper this afternoon, and it helped me figure out what I need to do. I also like the “skip it” approach. Started doing that with 5-paragraph essays back in high school. I figured out it was easier to write the introduction once I knew for sure what the rest of it said.

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