How to Smash Writer's Block
Every writer has been there whether you write for purpose or pleasure. It's the dreaded Writer's Block. A frustrating and annoying metaphorical wall between you and your creativity. There is nothing worse than facing a deadline and finding the inspirational pool dry as a bone. This article aims to give you a few dos and don'ts to try and break through the stagnation with an innovative sledgehammer.
DON'T sit and stare at the page/screen.
Seriously, don't do this. Ideas are shy and extremely stubborn creatures, trying to force them out and on to the page is the fast road to a bin full of crumpled paper or a worn out backspace key.
DO watch a movie/read a book.
There is a saying that there are no more original ideas anymore, just reworked ones. Whether or not that is true, it certainly does no harm to absorb fiction from any medium you can find. Something that you read or watch could be that little pebble in the pond that ripples out into a brand new idea or the next plot development for your story.
DON'T feel you have to write in a linear way.
Have you ever had an amazing outline for a story with a really strong idea of what is going to happen in the middle or the end but you are struggling to write the beginning? Then write the middle or the end first. No one ever said that a story had to be written in the order it was meant to be read, write the scenes you have and read over them, chances are the beginning will be a little easier after that and if it isn't? Maybe start your story where the action is and expand on the background with dialogue or memories.
DO get out and look for ideas.
You can go to your local park with your notebook and look for inspiration in the landscape. Or equally, go into the urban jungle and people watch, make up stories about what they are doing and why. Try visiting any interesting places that you can: historical sites, natural wonders, museums or art galleries. All are great places to pour a little oil on those rusty gears in your head.
DON'T 'borrow' lines and work from other authors.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but not in the literary world. It's called plagiarism and it could land you in a whole heap of trouble. People have been disqualified from competitions, expelled from schools, fired from jobs and even sued through the courts! It's not worth it, so don't even entertain the idea.
DO research the subject you are writing about.
Reading up about the time period or the place you are basing your stories in is always a good idea; some little piece of trivia that you pick up could be just what you were looking for. But if your story isn't set in our current timeline or even in our universe? No problem. Reading up about different tribal and ancient cultures could help with a fantasy piece and an article or two on the up and coming scientific breakthroughs could help you come up with the technology for your science fiction stories. Also myths and legends are often great places to pick up things to shove in the old idea box.
DON'T forget your notebook.
Picture the scene, you are pottering around in your normal, everyday life when you get a sudden flash of brilliant inspiration! You haven't got your notebook with you but you're pretty sure you'll remember it later. Yes, you might well remember it when it comes down to it, but you might not and that idea is now gone to the place where forgotten ideas go. You can pick up tiny A6 notebooks that you can carry in your pocket, never leave home without it. Oh, and a pen! Don't forget that either.
DO tap into your social networks for a fresh perspective.
Completely stuck with where this current plot is going? It might be worth having a word with a friend or family member, give them a summary and they just might be able to come up with a twist you hadn't even considered. Even if they don't, bouncing ideas around with someone as a sounding board can be a great way to get a stuck clock ticking over again.
DON'T be afraid to let your imagination run wild.
When you do have an idea, just run with it and take it as far as it will go. Don't worry about plot holes, irrelevant tangents and spelling mistakes, that's what redrafting and editing is for. If you stop yourself mid-flow, who knows if you will be able to pick up that stream of thought again? Just please remember to eat, drink and sleep once in a while, ok?
And finally: DO have fun with it.
This is probably one of the most important points, if you are writing something and *you* are not enjoying the story, how do you expect your reader to? Don't be afraid to scrap a piece and start again. Yes, writer's block is like trying to write your way through a sticky bog at the best of times but if the subject or plot doesn't interest you, you may as well try to cross that bog with rocks tied to your forearms. Writing shouldn't be a chore, it's an exciting journey that you are leading your characters on and when you both get to the end, there should be a shout of triumph! Not a sigh of relief.
Unfortunately everyone will have writer's block once in a while; it's a pretty much a rite of passage for many aspiring novelists or poets. But instead of banging your head against it hoping it will go away; try a few of these tips and save yourself the headache. This list is only meant to be a jumping off point, what you really have to remember is that sometimes inspiration just will not come to you. So you'll have to hunt it and chase it down like the elusive beast it so often proves to be.