It happens to us all – we’re in the middle of a piece of work and it is just inspired. Everything flows. The words fit perfectly. The idea is seamless and flows like the Nile forming an oasis in a desert of blank pages.
And then the phone rights. Or you get an email alert that snaps you out of the zone. Maybe someone knocks on the door. Whatever happens and then the zone is gone.
Writing all of a sudden becomes like pulling teeth – painful and extraordinarily uninspired. Things on the page that were once beautiful now turn to pure dung and nothing you do seems to redeem the words on the page or match the perfection of what came before.
I do advocate having a set time to write and minimizing interruptions during these writing periods, but that doesn’t mean that an inspired state of mind doesn’t help with the workflow, and when that streak is gone, it can seem impossible to begin to write again.
These three tips help me get back into the flow of writing once I’ve lost it, and hopefully they’ll help you too.
1. Do a free write. This might seem like non-advice like advice, but hear me out. A free write is literally just a free flow of your thoughts on the paper. It gets you to write what you think and everything, related to what you are working on or not, ends up on the page. This exercise not only helps you get back into the flow of thinking and writing but it also is a great way to generate ideas if you are stuck due to a lack of direction. Let me give you an example of a free write:
This is me free writing. I’m not allowed to hit delete or backspace or correct any typos or grammatical errors. There are no interruptions. I’ve turned all things off and I’m just writing. If I get stuck I just type the last word I”ve thought of until another thought pops into my mind. I can do this in a timed manner and just give myself 5 minutes to write or 20 minutes to write – or 1 minute, which would make more sense for me ’cause I type fast. Fast. fast. Fast. I think I’m done. You get the point.
2. Kill your story or poem or whatever it is you are working on. End it right where it is at. It doesn’t matter if you are on the first page or the 500th page – just kill it. See what it would be like to end what you are working on right there, and then think of how to get out of what you just did. This doesn’t have to be something you keep, but it is a way of getting ideas flowing and taking your writing in a new direction that may lead you back down the road to fresh flowing ideas.
3. Write your story backwards. What do I mean by backwards? I mean pull a Memento on your story.
Write the ending to what you are working on first and then work your way back from there. Write the event immediately leading up to the ending and work your way back to the climax of the book, then write the building conflict and figure out your introduction last. You don’t have to write the whole book backwards, but once you have the ending in place it might become much easier to write a way for your characters or story to get there.
As I’ve said, these tricks help me out, and I hope they help you too. So next time you get stuck and are battling some truly dreadful writer’s block, try one of these tips out to beat it.
– Amanda Riggle