How to get unstuck

Everyone has moments when they just can’t get their butt moving in the right direction. Whether it’s because you don’t feel like it, the ideas aren’t coming, or you’re just plain depressed, all writers suffer from the dreaded writer’s block. I’m not an expert or anything (the older I get the more I realize I’m an expert at exactly nothing), but I have come up with some strategies to get going again when I get stuck in the cursed land of Writer’s Block.

Just keep writing. It doesn’t have to be on your current manuscript. It doesn’t even have to be a blog article. Just keep the proverbial pen moving. I’ve learned over the years that the more I write, the more my muse visits me with ideas. I’m shocked by how many ideas for blog articles I actually have. I may complain – a lot – about writing a blog but I do have a journal with several pages of ideas (and no, this blog was not one of those ideas).

Set an alarm. One of my problems with working on a manuscript is distractions. There are emails, Facebook posts, tweets and even Pinterest updates to keep me distracted. I can easily wile away an entire morning dealing with social media and answering emails. By the time I get around to working on my manuscript, I just don’t feel like it (she says in an incredibly whiney voice). What’s the answer to my problem? Discipline. If I really can’t keep my head in the game, I set my iPhone timer for 45 minutes. During that time, I’m not allowed to check the Internet – at all. So not even for a spell check or quick research item. In my life, a quick research item can turn into an hour of trawling Urban Dictionary.

Brainstorm. If all else fails, do a brainstorm session about your current project. I have a journal for each novel I write. I jot down all my character and chapter ideas. I also outline the resolution of the mystery so I can throw clues into the novel here and there. Jotting down my ideas usually gets me excited to start writing again. It also takes away the excuse of I don’t know where to go from here. Totally one of my favorite excuses.

Go outside. I can’t even begin to count the number of ideas – whether blog articles, chapters, characters, or murder clues – I get while walking the dog. In fact, this blog was outlined in my head while I was walking the dog through the snowy, slippery streets on Sunday morning. Clear your mind and just enjoy the great outdoors, you’d be surprised the magic Mother Nature can weave.

Give yourself a break. Sometimes ideas just don’t flow. Sometimes depression feels like there’s a heavy cloud in which your head is incased. If you really can’t get yourself going, maybe you’re working on the wrong project? Switch directions. Maybe set aside the current manuscript and start a new project. Something you can get excited about. I’m currently living in Istanbul and everyone keeps pushing me that it’s a great location for a book and must give me awesome writing ideas. That’s not exactly how it works, though. But I pressured myself into coming up with a novel idea. I bought a journal, drafted an outline, and even wrote a few paragraphs in the first chapter. And that’s it. I couldn’t get excited about the project. I tried and tried and tried. I got depressed. I got frustrated. I got NOWHERE. My husband finally talked me into starting a different project. He said I could always come back to it when I felt like it. So far I haven’t felt like it, but I have published four books in the meantime.

I hope my ideas help. Got ideas of your own on dealing with writer’s block? I’d love to hear about them.

 

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4 thoughts on “How to get unstuck

  1. Linda Mims says:

    Good advice. I do a couple of these. Brainstorm and make notes until I’m ready to write again. I also take long walks outside. Thanks for validating my habits.

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    • dehaggerty says:

      Walking outside wasn’t working for me and I was at my rope’s end. That’s when I came up with the 45 minute timer rule. It really works for me. I can always do just 45 minutes, I think. I usually end up continuing to write after the 45 minutes.

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