On a new path…









Having struggled with various forms of “writers block” this past year – I feel as though I’ve been in a medievel village visting each possible healer: the herbalist to the priest to the witch to the tarot card reader to try and break the spell.  I did in fact find a way to get writing again – very reluctantly – I had to share my writings with a group again.  Being accountable to a group reading of my script made me “show up”.   

I recently found this list from the Dramatist Guild and I have to say I laughed when I realized I had tried almost everyone of these 101 Tips. Some of my trials with changing my writing space, drinking a cocktail, playing Angry Birds (okay that isn’t in the list but it was something I tried to get my brain to “play”), none of these seemed to have any beneficial results for me.  But I did find the list a great compilation of all the ways we try and get our spirit to show up on the page:

101 Tips to Fight & Overcome Writer’s Block

by GetFreeEbooks.com

  1. Read and write often.
  2. Make PROCRASTINATION your biggest enemy.
  3. Your draft, visual sketches, videos, initial framework are your best friends. Always refer to them again if you’re stuck.
  4. Draw! yes, draw. By drawing, you’re expressing yourself in a different way / through a different channel (not in words). This might help to picture out what you couldn’t put in words in the first place. In fact drawing is very similar to writing as it exercises the right creative side of your brain.
  5. Simplicity – For some, style of writing, strong words, flowery phrases, etc. are their main priorities. Don’t worry too much on those matters, go simple and focus on wording out the flow of your ideas, then focus on the beautification process.
  6. Find your golden hour, what time are you at your optimum efficiency level. Are you a morning person? A night owl?
  7. Change your surroundings. Focus on getting to a location which is comfortable for you. If you prefer a busy place with crowd and a lot of noises, find one. If you prefer a quite place, find a library, etc.
  8. Get your blood moving – exercise, move around, swim. Go for a short road trip.
  9. Try aromatherapy.
  10. Play some games. It doesn’t matter whether it’s from your Iphone, or from your computer. Good games with some engaging story lines can trigger new ideas and strategies on how to write.
  11. Get involved with anagrams.
  12. Creative writing games.
  13. Play Pictionary– By observing on how different players draw out their words / phrases, you can try to practice new ways of outlining your storyline. Or just have fun while you’re taking your short breaks.
  14. Play typing games– Those random generated sentences that you have to type as fast as you can, may represent great source of ideas.
  15. Play around with your emotions (at least not intentionally) and take advantage of it . Certain emotions might prepare yourself to write differently and provide you with the variety you need.
  16. Be an adrenaline junkie, jump on the roller coaster, go for bungee jumping, etc. Try experiencing something you’ve never done before. For some, this triggers a new set of feelings which you can apply it on your writing.
  17. Get rid of any negative emotions. When you’re bothered, your mind is confused. Fix your problems, run your errands, solve everything that you can think of, and let your mind to focus on one and only one thing – your writing.
  18. Brainwash yourself to erase terms such as writer’s block from your mind. For all you know it’s just laziness. (Refer to point no 2).
  19. Eat healthy food, and eat well. Your mind does not function well on an empty stomach.
  20. Being equipped with information is the key to a smooth free flow of ideas. Keep a writers journal, keep receipts, items, pictures, souvenirs, presents or any items that can aid you in your writing.
  21. Go to places which you think will give you ideas (closely related to the story you’re writing). Don’t forget to bring a paper and a pen, or anything that you write them on (iPhone, digital notebook, iPad, etc.). The last thing you want happening to you is knocking yourself on the head for not being able to remember.
  22. When you’re not progressing in your writing, write / note down everything you can think of, even if it’s bad. Lower your standards and keep writing. You can refer to them later and might conveniently construct a new idea. In other words, don’t be a perfectionist at this point of time, just write what you can think of, as you can always edit it later. Even if it’s not related to what you’re currently writing, write it down. It might come in handy in your next projects. Abandon nothing when it comes to writing ideas.
  23. Research, research, research. Do your homework.
  24. Instead of following the normal flow of things – research and then write, rehearse what you’re about to write before going out on the field to cover your story.
  25. Unplug the internet, don’t check your emails, don’t log in to your IM. Basically, wipe out all the common distractions.
  26. Or if you happen to work very well with distractions, listen to some music, podcasts, audiobooks, etc. while or when you’re not writing. Alternatively, visit crowded places. Humans are complex beings, some need minor and indirect distractions to be able to function.
  27. Tackle / overcome the most difficult part when you’re fresh (early in the morning, after your run, etc). In the evening if you’re a writing over the graveyard shift.
  28. Coffee, tea or any energy drink – caffeine is a great boost and will stir your mind. Focus and alertness is your priority.
  29. Get sufficient amount of sleep. There’s no point slogging yourself throughout the night, cracking your brain, when nothing is coming out.
  30. Your brain needs some rest as well. Exhaustion is not an option – take a break. Perhaps a short nap could help a great deal in thinking department. For those who are gifted enough to remember their own dreams, this is another platform where you can extract ideas from. Our brain is by far the best story generator and movie director one can ever find.
  31. Alcohol, not in excessive amount though.
  32. Talk to your writer friends / close friends, get their opinions, what they have in mind, etc. Go for constructive suggestions, balance out between compliments and unpleasant remarks.
  33. Set a personal dateline – some authors work better under pressure, some don’t. Change your dateline according to your comfort level.
  34. Time is a very important factor, regardless you’re within a dateline or not. Always start early, prepare yourself sufficiently and this should minimize any obstacles you may find.
  35. Commit yourself to achieving a word count, not writing for a certain amount of time. Aim for your optimum number of words, double it if you feel good. Otherwise, just aim for your minimum.
  36. If you have published a few books before, read your readers’ comments. Their comments and suggestions might give you some idea on how to proceed and improve.
  37. Start of the end. Instead of writing from start to end, write from end to start. Formulate an ending and figure out how it starts and how it flows. Or you can even start in the middle. Start with a few short stories if you think it will help your readers to understand better. Throw in poems, historical facts, etc.
  38. Reward yourself – if you manage to conquer a difficult part of your writer’s block, reward yourself to a good weekend with your friends and family, etc. An unhealthy sinful food you’ve always been craving for. When you’re emotionally contented, things might come in more naturally in the next stages of writing.
  39. Talk to yourself. Some might think you’re crazy, but saying it out loud is a brilliant way of bringing clarity and to explore the different options that might come. Speak. Shout. Get a tape recorder, a microphone perhaps? etc. Sometimes ideas travel faster from the brain to the mouth than from the brain to the hand.
  40. Question yourself continuously and consistently. Perhaps religiously? You never know what kind of answers you might come up yourself. Instead of plotting what to write next, write down questions instead. Then move on.
  41. Handwrite instead of typing it in your computer.
  42. Try to distract yourself with meaningless activities like copying a paragraph of your story into Google translate, translate it into another language and change it back to the original. Inspirations might be nonexistent from this method, but at least you can have a good laugh from the results. The “modifications” from the translations could be a reward in disguise – a new writing style perhaps?
  43. Typing in phrases into search engines and look at how are these phrases are written. You may discover new building blocks you may keep for later reference.
  44. Don’t be afraid to experiment, people tend to learn faster and better when they do mistakes.
  45. Work on more than one project at a time. It helps to minimize fear, monotony, and boredom. It seems to prevent writer’s block for many people.
  46. Get counseling, many therapists specialize in helping artists and writers reconnect with their creativity.
  47. Motivation – Who are you writing this book for? Why are you writing this book? If you can focus on questions like these and enhance them by visualizing them constantly, they should aid you in your writing process. Don’t underestimate the drive that can be derived from motivation and results. Imagine the rewards you’ll gain from consistent visits to the gym. Similarly, you’ll write more and more often, whenever you start noticing that you’re writing much more efficiently. Improvements = results. (Refer to point no 1).
  48. Try writing exercises – loosen up the mind and get you to write things you would never write otherwise.
  49. Read quotes by famous authors on writer’s block.
  50. It’s not the words, but your vision, try to narrow down on the topic. Starting from a Country > Town > Street > Shops > People > Walls > Bricks, etc. Start with the favorite object in the story, use an object as a topic of discussion.
  51. Think differently and find connections between seemingly unrelated concepts and items. E.g. Try connecting the dot between a car and a piece of rubber band. This might stimulate some unused sections of your thinking cap, and trigger some brand new ideas.
  52. Imagine / put yourself in the shoes of different characters and objects. Think the impossible – try to imagine yourself as a 100 year old tree, being a grizzly bear’s claw sharpener. How would you feel and do? Attack different scenarios from a different standpoint.
  53. Ask yourself why and where are you getting stuck? Focus on the issue and do a research on all possible scenarios involving that particular topic that you’re not able to continue. How if, What if, etc.
  54. Set your priorities, your main focus.
  55. Stop being a perfectionist throughout your writing process.
  56. Don’t rewrite until you’re done. Focus on your structure, flow and ideas. Corrections and beautifications can come later. Learn how to prioritize your time between composing and editing.
  57. If you can’t find the proper phrase, write down whatever comes into your mind, highlight it / bracket it, and then come back later if you’ve found out the proper phrase to use.
  58. Prepare yourself a set of phrases that can be used as your building blocks, e.g. due to the fact that, it is imperative that, etc. You can also utilize different words and sentences.
  59. Your goal is not to write the greatest article or poem for how-to guide or epic novel ever created. Your goal is to satisfy yourself.
  60. Perform interviews, distribute questionnaire and run surveys.
  61. Pretend somebody important to be your fan. Your former English teacher? JK Rowling? Imagine yourself writing for someone else who is interested in your topic of writing. The urge to impress motivates one beautifully.
  62. Ensure writing is your passion. There’s nothing wrong writing when you spend your whole life climbing rocks. It’s just easier to accomplish something when passion is the main pillar of support.
  63. Don’t feel down or demotivated when you’re going nowhere, it happens even to the best and most experienced writers. The last thing you want to worry is about false impressions that you’re incapable of writing. You are a great writer.
  64. Join a writers group. Get together, throw out your notebook or iPad, whichever you’re comfortable with and start writing. The presence of individuals with similar objectives and obstacles could push you forward, unknowingly.
  65. Try to think like a chatterbox (or observe one). On how they can present a topic and then move on gracefully to another subject which has no relation whatsoever with the main topic of conversation, should give you some strategies on how you can approach your own story progressions. And it’s not that difficult to find one these days, if you’re not one of them.
  66. Make use of the thesaurus. List down a list of words, run them through thesaurus and see what you can find. Their meanings and usage can open a door to brand new ideas and writing styles. Explore the synonyms and antonyms as well.
  67. Vary your writing styles & approaches:-
    • Describing people, places & things
    • Narrating events
    • Explaining a process step by step (Instructional)
    • Clarification & Explanation
    • Comparing & Contrasting
    • Classifying & Dividing
    • Examining Causes & Effects
    • Arguing & Persuading
    • Reviews & Predictions
    • Lists
    • Case Studies
    • Problems & Solutions
    • Rantings
    • Inspirational
    • Research
    • Debate
    • Hypothetical
    • Satirical
  68. Dig back your old writing materials. Still keeping your old writing assignments? You might get lucky and find some great ideas you’ve kept aside long time ago.
  69. Dig into your email account and re-visit the conversations you had with your contacts, the ideas you shared and the things you discussed.
  70. If you’re a travel writer, even a small item like a used cigarette butt can generate / trigger new ideas. Keep all the items and capture all information that you’ve encountered during your journey. Take pictures, videos, audio recordings, etc.
  71. Read other books (bookshop or any other books you already have). Read online to experience a variety of new storytelling forms. Go with topics outside your discipline, such as architecture, astronomy, economics or photography.
  72. Read books that help you to write.
  73. Search through free eBook sites:-
  74. Start with a prompt (10 Reasons Why You Should Use Writing Prompts)
  75. Start with a hook sentence.
  76. Write using the Snowflake method.
  77. Try Asemicwriting.
  78. Contribute to a collaborative story. Free your mind and at the same time, test your creativity and absorb a lot of great ideas from the community.
  79. Browse “minimalistic” one sentence / one word story hubs.
  80. Join a writing contest or submit your short stories. Just a small one to pull you out of your “routine”. Your new writing task and your sense of accomplishment after submitting your entry, hopefully, will clear off some of the obstacles blocking your ideas to flow.
  81. Engage an online generator, e.g. Character name generator, poetry generator, random line generator, Title-o-Matic, etc.
  82. Use Inspiro– An idea generator / Imagination stimulator (Iphone, Ipad, Ipod Touch App) – $2.99.
  83. Browse through newspaper archives online.
  84. Studying the lives of other writers can also provide insight into why you’re blocked.
  85. Read all the latest news in one place – PopURLs.com
  86. Go and catch a movie, incidents happening in the storyline might help. Or if you’re busy, watch online movies (Youtube, Metacafe, Dailymotion, Vimeo & VideoJug).
  87. Listen to music lyrics and read movie quotes (IMDB)
  88. Search new ideas and information from blogs – Google Blog Search
  89. Browse through popular online article directories.
  90. Search and read online news.
  91. Search forums related to your topic:-
  92. Take advantage of the keyword tools out there. You’ll be amazed what can be derived from just a single word. Use this tool and expand your ideas. – Google Keyword Tool
  93. Find questions and answers from the community :-
  94. People say an image is worth a thousand words.
  95. Browse through postcards from your nearest bookstore and absorb the ideas from them.
  96. Go to social bookmarking sites and find items based no your topic.
  97. Searches through social networking sites could provide some interesting results as well.
  98. Get a proper writing software, or something that you’re comfortable with. Getting rid of small annoyances (lack of certain functionality, no auto save / backup feature, etc.) such as this can free up more room for effective thinking. We would recommend Evernote.
  99. Charts, diagrams and Mindmapping.
  100. Grab some chocolate and surrender to your libido. Some de-stressing should do the trick.
  101. Finally, if everything still fails, repeat steps 1 to 100. Happy writing!

2 thoughts on “On a new path…

  1. Awesome list, thanks for sharing!! One of my favs that I’ve used many times is #48, writing exercises — I open up one of Natalie Goldberg’s books (Wild Mind especially) and use one of her prompts.

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