Tag Archives: Writer’s block

Beat the Block: Change Your Surroundings

surroundingsWriter’s block has left countless writers with the inability to put words to paper. Whether it’s a total lack of ideas or too many ideas, writer’s block leads to convoluted thinking and stops the writer from creating a story. It’s almost inevitable and whether you’ve written one or one hundred books, writer’s block is one of the biggest obstacles a writer might face. It can occur at any stage of the writing process and for some writers, it’s incredibly difficult to beat.

Last week, I discussed how listening to music can help you focus on your writing and immerse you into your story. This week, I’m going to discuss how changing your surroundings can give you a fresh perspective on your novel and help you get over writer’s block.

For many writers, there is one specific place where all writing projects are done. Whether it’s at a desk in a formal office or snuggled under the blankets in bed, writers tend to have a couple of designated places where they do their writing. However, when writer’s block strikes, staying in the same place can feel monotonous and can make it harder to get over writer’s block. Changing your surroundings and going to a new place can help refresh your mind and give you a fresh perspective.

When changing your surroundings, consider going outside to write if it’s a nice day. The fresh air will be a welcome change to the circulated air indoors. Spending time outside has also been proven to improve your mood. If your mood is boosted, you will have the ability to work more productively and ideas are more likely to flow.

If the weather is not particularly nice, go to your local public library to do some writing. Since we spend so much time in our own homes, changing rooms may not be enough because every room in our home is so familiar. It’s easy to get distracted by pictures on the wall or your household to-do list. It is also easy to get the feeling of cabin fever if you spend too much time in your house attempting to write. By going to a new place, you are no longer distracted by your surroundings and you are able to focus on your writing. Libraries are generally quiet places and being surrounded by books will put you in the writing mindset.

To add an element of positive reinforcement, select your favorite coffee shop or café. Then, set yourself a word count goal and if you are able to meet that word count, treat yourself to a coffee or beverage at that location. Whenever you go to your new destination, make sure to bring your laptop or journal with you and write at the coffee shop or café. You will be in a completely new environment and the people and things around you may spark some inspiration. Once you arrive at the coffee shop or cafe, set yourself a new writing goal while you’re there. If you are able to reach your coffee shop word count, reward yourself with a little treat before you leave. If there’s no wifi, no problem. The lack of the Internet will prevent you from getting distracted while you write.

It doesn’t matter where you end up, but changing your surroundings can greatly affect your writing. By changing you surroundings, you won’t be looking at the same four walls and you will give your eyes and mind a much needed break. Being in a new place and surrounding yourself with new things will help spark new ideas, refresh your mind, and will help you get over writer’s block.

Thank you for following my Beat the Block series this month. If you have ever defeated writer’s block by changing your surroundings, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Beat the Block Series:
Beat the Block: Use Writing Prompts
Beat the Block: Get Physical
Beat the Block: Start a New Scene
Beat the Block: Listen to Music

Until next week,

Debbie

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Beat the Block: Listen to Music

musicWriter’s block has left countless writers with the inability to put words to paper. Whether it’s a total lack of ideas or too many ideas, writer’s block leads to convoluted thinking and stops the writer from creating a story. It’s almost inevitable and whether you’ve written one or one hundred books, writer’s block is one of the biggest obstacles a writer might face. It can occur at any stage of the writing process and for some writers, it’s incredibly difficult to beat.

Last week, I discussed the benefits of starting a new scene and how it can help a writer to overcome writer’s block. This week, I am going to discuss how listening to music can help you focus on your writing and immerse you into your story.

Regardless of where you choose to write, there are always some sort of distractions around you. If you are writing from the comfort of your bedroom, the singing of birds outside may take your attention away from your keyboard. If you are writing on a busy subway platform, you may begin to focus on the conversation that someone is having next to you. It is very difficult to focus on writing if the sounds of your reality stop you from delving into the literary world you are attempting to build. If you aren’t able to submerge yourself into the story, it’s easy to get stuck. A great way to avoid audible distractions around you is by listening to music.

Music is a great way to immerse yourself into your writing and help you concentrate. When you are listening to music, you no longer have to worry about the noises around you. I prefer music without any words, such as film scores or classical music. By listening to these types of music, you can focus solely on the words in front of you rather than the words in a song. When your ability to focus is heightened, ideas are more likely to flow from your mind and onto the page.

Music is also a great way to help you visualize a scene. Television and films utilize music in order to set a scene and determine a certain mood. If the mood is light, the music will be light. If something is about to happen, the music will be just as suspenseful. You can utilize this film and television trick when you are writing. If you are writing a suspenseful scene, make sure you pick music to match it. If you do, it’ll help you envision the scene and all of your focus will be on the story, not on the stresses of life outside of the headphones. When all of your focus is on your writing, inspiration is more likely to strike.

There have also been some studies done that suggest that listening to music may enhance your focus. According to the New York Times, one study suggests that when people listen to music while working, they are able to complete a task more quickly and think of better ideas than those who don’t listen to music while working. There have been many other studies that suggest that listening to certain types of music can also increase memory and concentration. Although the topic is debated and it certainly helps if you enjoy the music that you’re listening to, music does affect the brain in a positive way that can help you get over writer’s block.

Whether your music of choice is a piece of classical music or a film score, listening to music is a great way to help you focus on your writing. Music can help you dive into the world you are creating by eliminating the distractions around you. When you become a part of your literary world, it’s easier to come up with ideas and keep the story moving. If your ideas are fresh and frequent, writer’s block will no longer be a problem.

I will be continuing my Beat the Block series throughout the month of April to provide tips and tricks to beat writer’s block. If you have ever defeated writer’s block by listening to music, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Beat the Block Series:
Beat the Block: Use Writing Prompts
Beat the Block: Get Physical
Beat the Block: Start a New Scene

Until next week,

Debbie

Beat the Block: Start a New Scene

newsceneWriter’s block has left countless writers with the inability to put words to paper. Whether it’s a total lack of ideas or too many ideas, writer’s block leads to convoluted thinking and stops the writer from creating a story. It’s almost inevitable and whether you’ve written one or one hundred books, writer’s block is one of the biggest obstacles a writer might face. It can occur at any stage of the writing process and for some writers, it’s incredibly difficult to beat.

Last week, I discussed the benefits of exercise and how physical activity can help a writer to overcome writer’s block. This week, I am going to discuss how starting a new scene can reinvigorate your creativity and help you beat writer’s block.

When you are in the middle of a writing project, especially something as long as a novel, it’s easy to grow into a slump and develop writer’s block. A lot of writers outline the plot of their story and write the chapters in order of how they are in the outline. However, I find that I can sometimes get stuck when I am writing my novel linearly. It’s normal to find yourself desiring to write a scene that happens near the end and lose the motivation to write the ones that come before it. When we lose the motivation to write the scenes in between, this can result in writer’s block.

In order to overcome this struggle, I have found that breaking away from the outline and starting a new scene is immensely helpful. This new scene can be one that you’ve previously outlined that you feel excited about or it can be a scene that you never pictured being in your book. For example, imagine that you are writing a crime novel that focuses on a murder victim’s family. In the outline, you might have had the family nervously waiting for the police to show up and give them the results of the investigation of the crime scene. Instead, write from the point of view of one of the family members going out and investigating the crime scene themselves. Where did the murder occur? What does the family member find? Is there anything suspicious at the crime scene that police have not found? Even if you don’t keep the scene in your novel, it can give you an alternative view of your story, inspire new ideas, and get you excited to write again.

Don’t be afraid to write a scene that you know won’t be included in your project because it’ll be a “waste of time”. Take the example above. If you know that you won’t include a family member investigating the crime scene in your manuscript, write it anyway. This will force you to really picture the setting and the details will become more vivid and distinct. Yes, thousands of words may end up getting cut from your manuscript, but the scene will have aided in world building and may have inspired a new idea.

If you want to write a scene that will be included in the novel, there should be no stopping you. If you feel excitement about the scene, use that passion to write as much as you can. It’ll be easier to connect the scene to the rest of the story later than to stay stagnant and wish for inspiration to hit you. I know that some writers don’t like to write disjointed scenes, but I encourage you to break free of the confines of the outline and start a new scene. You’ll feel refreshed by the new change of pace and your story will really begin to come to life.

Starting a new scene is a great way to get excited about writing again. I know that every writer relishes the feeling of a new idea and it’s incredibly easy to increase your word count when the ideas are fresh. Beginning a new scene gives you this boost of motivation and enables you to get out of the slump of writer’s block.

I will be continuing my Beat the Block series throughout the month of April to provide tips and tricks to beat writer’s block. If you have ever defeated writer’s block by starting in a new scene, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Beat the Block Series:
Beat the Block: Use Writing Prompts
Beat the Block: Get Physical

Until next week,

Debbie

Beat the Block: Get Physical

beattheblockWriter’s block has left countless writers with the inability to put words to paper. Whether it’s a total lack of ideas or too many ideas, writer’s block leads to convoluted thinking and stops the writer from creating a story. It’s almost inevitable and whether you’ve written one or one hundred books, writer’s block is one of the biggest obstacles a writer might face. It can occur at any stage of the writing process and for some writers, it’s incredibly difficult to beat.

Last week, I discussed the benefits of utilizing writing prompts in order to overcome writer’s block. This week, I am going to discuss the benefits that exercise can have on your writing and how it can significantly increase your chances of beating writer’s block.

Writing is an incredibly sedentary activity and writers can find themselves sitting in a chair for hours on end. Focus and creativity may wane after so many hours of inactivity, resulting in writer’s block. Getting away from the computer and on your feet is a great way to reinvigorate the mind and body. Not only is exercise a welcome distraction to the stresses of writer’s block, but putting yourself in a new environment may lead to some inspiration.

There are countless ways a person can get active and exercise. Some people may prefer the security of working out on the treadmill at the gym while others may enjoy going for a hike or playing sports. Regardless of how you prefer to get active, regular exercise has always been one of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle. However, exercise benefits the mind as much as the body. In fact, regular exercise has actually been scientifically proven to improve creativity and creative inspiration.

There have been numerous studies that conclude that exercising has a positive impact on the brain and some conclude that exercise can specifically increase creativity. A journal called Frontiers in Human Neuroscience illustrates how those who exercise regularly perform better in creativity tests than their sedentary counterparts do. The study focuses on the impact that exercise has on divergent and convergent thinking, two important aspects of creativity. A study at Stanford University found that simply walking improves creativity. According to the study, a person’s creative output increases an average of 60% while walking. These are only two of the many studies that have the same conclusion: cardio exercise improves creativity.

My favorite method of exercising is going outside to do some cardio. Not only are you receiving all of the benefits of exercise, but being outside has been proven to boost your mood. It is also a great opportunity to take another look at the world, which may aid in world building and plotting when you eventually do return to your computer.

Whether you’re exercising on a stationary bike or biking in a marathon, regular exercise has been scientifically proven to improve creativity and creative thinking. Creativity is undeniably important in the writing process and this creative boost is an excellent way to think of new story ideas, fill in plot holes, and beat writer’s block.

I will be continuing my Beat the Block series throughout the month of April to provide tips and tricks to beat writer’s block. If you have ever defeated writer’s block by exercising, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Until next week,

Debbie

Beat the Block: Use Writing Prompts

writingpromptsWriter’s block has left countless writers with the inability to put words to paper. Whether it’s a total lack of ideas or too many ideas, writer’s block leads to convoluted thinking and stops the writer from creating a story. It’s almost inevitable and whether you’ve written one or one hundred books, writer’s block is one of the biggest obstacles a writer might face. It can occur at any stage of the writing process and for some writers, it’s incredibly difficult to beat. I have found that one of my favorite ways to get over writer’s block is with the help of writing prompts.

Writing prompts are words, sentences, or paragraphs that stimulate creativity and encourage writers to write about a specific topic. Writing prompts come in many varieties and they can vary in length and in the style that they are written. Some writing prompts will simply give the writer a topic to write about:

Write about waking up in a different body.

Other writing prompts may drop the writer in the middle of the scene:

Just as I was leaving, the door swung open and a woman emerged through the doorway. “I can’t believe that you would do something so horrible.”

Regardless of the type of prompt, writing prompts can help stimulate your imagination and reinvigorate your focus. If you are attempting to come up with a plot for a new project, a good writing prompt may inspire a story idea. If you are in the middle of a project and have come to a stop, writing something new could help spark your creative energy. Also, you could put your current characters into a writing prompt and seeing them in a new setting may bring about some inspiration. I think writing prompts are great for any type of project, whether it’s a novel, short story, screenplay, or poem.

Writing prompts are also incredibly easy to find. You can find books filled with writing prompts in book stores or in libraries. Typically, there will be a prompt at the top of the page and plenty of space for the writer to fill the rest of the page with words. There are also a huge number websites that list writing prompts online. One search for “writing prompts” can yield thousands of results and these prompts are just as good as the prompts you’d find in a book.

Whether you use writing prompts to start a story or continue one, they are incredibly helpful tools. In order to build your writing skill, you must write often and writing prompts can help improve the regularity of writing. They are excellent sources of inspiration and a great way to get over writer’s block.

I will be continuing my Beat the Block series throughout the month of April to provide tips and tricks to beat writer’s block. If you have ever used writing prompts to beat writer’s block, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Until next week,

Debbie