Five Ways to Overcome Writer's Block No Matter What You're Writing

I've sat through countless writing classes and watched as myself and other writers struggled with moving forward on a manuscript. This was most certainly the case when it came to screenwriting and I've found it also to be true in the book writing process.

The thing about writing, in my opinion, especially when it comes creating significant pages of work, is the task can feel pretty daunting. Putting word to page seems like such a major commitment and writers are sometimes paralyzed by the thought. I think that successfully completing a written work, whether it's a major piece such as a novel, non-fiction book, a screenplay or even something shorter, like a blog, comes down to the writer overcoming his own antagonist -- himself.

There are little outside forces at work when it comes to writer's block. Sure. Life has commitments. Other work beckons, the kids might get sick, or you may need to handle the details of that unfortunate fender bender from this morning, but ultimately, the onus is on the writer to get the words down on page. I don't think there is a one-sized fits all prescription for everyone, but these tactics have been known to work and if you're experiencing writer's block in any form, consider giving one or two of these a try.

1. Break down the writing into bite-sized bits. I committed to writing my book for five hours a week, outside of my normal work time. What I found was that I initially tried to schedule the time in larger chunks and procrastination sometimes reared its ugly head. So instead, I committed to 15 minutes of writing a day, with the intent of writing five hours a week. Bingo! That worked and I actually ended up writing over an hour per session and more than my intended commitment time because I wanted to finish what I had started.

2. Free write. Part of being stunned into paralysis on the page is the idea that once it's on the page, it should be perfect. Sometimes the words may flow out right and sometimes they need some editing. But I've found that committing to an idea, writing the thoughts down continuously for five minutes or more with no judgment, I'm able to get a good grasp of the intended piece. If it's a screenplay, then I'm often able to resolve a scene idea in minutes when it may otherwise have left me with a blank page for hours. If it's a non-fiction book, I'm able to pluck out some headers or sidebar ideas that I like from a larger list.

3. Get rid of the idea of perfection. Writing is a process. Depending on your skill level and the topic at hand, you may speed through a well thought out 2,000-word article in a mere two hours with little editing. (Who are you and can I borrow your superhuman skill?) But more often than not, especially for a longer manuscript, laying out the structure, writing the broad pieces and then going back in and fine-tuning the details is necessary. The attachment to perfectionism at first try when it comes to writing is often a sure-fire writing killer. Writing involves a rewriting and editing process. It's not only necessary but okay.

4. Don't write. If you're really stuck, move away from your writing and do something else for a short time. Sometimes, it's easy to get stuck in a mindset of not being able to write. A change of pace or surroundings may be necessary to rectify the situation. Alternate activities may include going for a walk, getting a workout in, or meeting a friend for a bite to eat. The key, of course, is to come back to the writing, ready to go after clearing your head.

5. Change the timing. To me, this is another example of doing what works best for you as the writer. For some, writing in the morning, when your mind is fresh, works best. Others feel more inclined to write in the evenings after having accomplished various tasks. I personally don't have a favorite. For me, the process is more about scheduling in reasonable time frames, rather than the time of the day. I think most writers who are successful in completing their blogs, articles, manuscripts, screenplays or other written works in a timely manner have found the tricks that work best for them.

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