These past several days have been rough on my productivity. Two weeks ago, I finished a short story and sent it off to my workshoppers. I opened a new document, and there it was, blinking up at me from the vast emptiness of the new page. My writer’s block lives in the in-between of my cursor’s steady pulse, you see, and it had snuck back in when I wasn’t paying attention.
To overcome the horror contained in that empty page, I frequently turn to the following strategies and activities.
Stuck on a character? Go people watching with your writing tools, pick five interesting people you encounter, and write about them. Describe them in as much literary detail as you can. Make up character profiles for them. Where are they going, and where did they come from? Who do they love or hate? Tell a story all about each one of them.
Just try not to get caught staring. It’s awkward when they come up and ask why you have been paying such close attention to them.
Similarly, go out into the world (yes, you have to do this on occasion… put your pants back on and go) and keep a running log of conversations you overhear. I jot down sentences and phrasings that I find amusing or indicative of character and then categorize them later based off of the sort of character I think might say such a thing. Then, try to use it. Create a story around this person who said this thing and see where their life goes when you toss (in my case) a Cthulhic monster at them.
3. Themed music
Generally speaking, I play Bach while I am writing. However, there are times when even he can’t cut it. When that happens, having a selection of various themes provides me with auditory stimulation that I can cater to my work in progress. Alien mystery? X-Files intro. Haunted house? One of the Halloween party sound tracks. Set your mood with music that helps you to connect to your imagination.
Whether I’m stuck or not, meeting with my writing friends provides me with major motivation and good juju for the pieces I’m working on or beginning. When I’m stuck, that boost is crucial. Go to local writing groups and start making friends! I have come to rely immensely on these colleagues, and sharing your writing with someone who knows how it feels to bare that piece of yourself like that does help soothe the nerves when you’re sharing a new piece for the first time.
5. Arts and crafts
When I’m really, really, super-duper stuck, I put the writing away and start drawing and crafting and creating in any way other than writing. Sometimes I draw my monsters, other times I create things that have nothing to do with anything, but regardless, I create. I’ve found that using that part of my brain- no matter what it is that I’m actually using it for- helps to free up those ideas. And it’s fun and relaxing, neither of which can be used to describe my experiences while banging my face repeatedly into a key board and hoping something good will come out.