Writer’s Block: Thoughts About Unlocking Your Creativity

Yes, it’s real. Yes, it happens. Despite the frustration it causes, writer’s block is part of the creative process, and it’s not a bad thing because it’s Creative Mind trying to tell you what it needs. You didn’t pay attention when it quietly tugged on your sleeve; now you’ll pay attention. So here are some things that can bring on writer’s block, along with some suggestions to fixing it.

Have you been getting enough sleep? You can flog Left Brain into functioning, but Creative Mind will shut the door in your face. Everyone has a sleep pattern that provides the best rest. Find it and honor it. Regular exercise is also good stimulation for creativity.

A good idea doesn’t necessarily equal a story. A story needs a person, place, and problem/conflict/reason to act. An idea is the first step. If you wrote a flurry of pages for the beginning and now don’t know what to do, maybe you don’t have sufficient information yet to translate the idea into a story. Some ideas gestate for weeks or months or even years before they gain enough substance to be stories. And sometimes that story/idea just doesn’t fit you as a writer. Let it go and move on.

There’s a gap in the story. You’re on scene B and you know what happens in scene E but you can’t get there. You need to spend time thinking about the story and where the characters are and what they need to do. Or you may be stuck because you want scene E, but the story has changed and that scene doesn’t fit the story you’re writing now. Think about where the characters need to go and what they want – which may be different from what you want. Creative Mind tends to back characters in this kind of standoff. Trust me.

Timed writing. Write anything or everything for 5 to 10 minutes. Write about the room you’re in. Then write about how that same kind of room would look in your character’s world. Write about sports or flowers or what you liked about the movie you saw last night. List the things you don’t know about your characters. Just write.

Changing fonts. If you draft on a computer, sometimes changing fonts is enough of an invitation to Creative Mind to come out and play.

Take a character to lunch. You like pizza? Invite one of your characters to come along. Is this a strange food to her? What is his attitude toward the place and food? Is she picky/have food allergies? Is he courteous or making a scene? Putting a character in a mundane scenario can teach you a lot about personality.

Fill the creative well. Take a day off to see a movie, take a walk in the park, visit a museum, have lunch with friends. Sometimes you’ve drained the well, and writer’s block is a way of telling you to rest. Give it a day or even two. Then go back and meet Creative Mind at the keyboard.

The Queen's PriceThe Queen's Price, in paperback February 2024