by Riley Amos Westbrook
Ever get hung up by that one word? The one you know is perfect - if you could only think of it!
Writer’s block can be a pain in the ass. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, the words just won’t come. Or you find you’ve written yourself into a corner, and there’s no way out.
Keeping momentum can be difficult, especially when life and its pressures start to draw your attention away from your writing. Whether it’s kids, school, work, a party, spending time with the people you love, the world is filled with plenty of distractions. And that’s not even mentioning the black hole of a time sink that is the internet.
I have some exercises I do to help myself maintain my focus, and keep me on track when I’m writing anything.
This is by far the simplest to do, and the hardest to find time for. I generally do this right before I start writing.
Simple thought exercises can help you shape your world before you even think about putting a single word on the page. I tend to be a visual thinker, so I treat it like a movie I can manipulate in real time. Once I have a scene set, it makes it much easier to put words on the page. *Fun Fact* Nikola Tesla is said to have “seen” his inventions before he created them, like a hologram right in front of him he could manipulate.
Give in to your distraction, but make it constructive.
There’s nothing wrong with being distracted. We’re only human after all, and sometimes a bit of fun is rewarding in its own way. You’d be surprised to see what ideas a few useless facts can pluck free of the brainfog.
Ass To Chair.
There’s just no way around it, your story will not get written if you don’t put your ass in your chair and write it. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do. You’re home from work, kids are in bed, and there’s nothing to stop you from doing your writing. But you hear the call of Netflix, and choose to binge watch all of House of Cards.
As I said, you’re only human. But that doesn’t get your story done either. Until such time as we create our first true AI, we’re stuck doing all the work ourselves or letting a blank page stare back at us.
Another one that can be hard to do. It’s hard to look at the people you love in your life and tell them their needs are being put on the back burner to focus on your own fun. At least it is for me. Sometimes we need to remind the people we love that we’re individuals as well and that we all need a little alone time to sort out our thoughts. Sometimes people understand, other times they call you a hermit. The key is, sometimes you have to do what is best for you.
*Caveat* Don’t push this one too far. It’s all well and good to tell your wife or children that you need alone time, but do it too much and that’s how houses are burned down.
I write with my wife, and we go back and forth about this all the time. Sometimes when we’re re-editing a work we get stuck by word choice. We search for that “perfect” word that fits exactly where it needs to. This is all well and good, but every moment you spend agonizing over that word is a moment you aren’t spending writing.
That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be choosy with your vocabulary. There’s a time and a place for everything, especially when writing.
Writer’s Block Ends.
Sometimes I struggle to put a single word to the page. I can do all the steps I’ve listed above, and more, but I’m still left staring at a blank page without a single word going through my mind. I’ve learned not to agonize about these times. For me, worrying about a blank page only ever led to more stress and anxiety, which made finding the words to put on the page all that much harder.
Forgive yourself when you are stuck, and realize that it will pass.
So these are some of the tricks I use to keep my momentum going. I know, a couple of them seem counter-intuitive, but they seem to work for me. I’d love to hear what you guys do to keep your own momentum going when you’re writing, I’m always looking to expand my toolbox.