I don’t know any writer who hasn’t been in this situation at one point. You sit down, finally having some free time to write, and then - nothing. No matter how hard you try, you can’t even manage to write one word without being very unhappy with it. It’s like a massive blockade inside of your head, keeping you from creating sentences. This phenomenon is called writer’s block, and it happens to all of us at times. But how can we get rid of it?
There’s two forms of writer’s block. With the first form, you can’t bring a sentence to paper despite having an idea, and with the second form, you can’t even figure out an idea.
If there is an idea in your head but you just can’t figure out how to put it into words, go and plan out your story. Create a detailed scene plan, add ideas as you go along. Simply write down all of the ideas you have. Simply working around the ideas might help you get the words flowing again.
If the problem is rather that you’re unhappy with every single phrase you come up with, try finding inspiration. Read works by authors you admire and analyse their style. How do they play around with words? How do they create an atmosphere? Which word fields do they come back to, and how does that relate to the characters?
One of the characters I always come back to has a huge interest in science. Whenever I try to figure out how to describe his feelings and emotions, I tend to use metaphors that utilise terms commonly used in conversations about science. Things like chemicals react do get a vastly different meaning, and the atmosphere which is created does not only match the character in an emotional way but also in terms of wording. Try figuring out word fields that match your characters, finding descriptions you could play around with. Look at how other people write, and try to learn from that. Perhaps you will come across that perfect phrase you were looking for the entire time in a place where you never expected to find it.
Another problem is often finding a beginning. Let’s say you already finished all of the planning and now you’re onto writing the story, but you just can’t happen to find the right words.
What I tend to do in such situations is to just start with a rather bad beginning and just keep writing. Once I get into the story, I then find nicer ways to phrase what I wanted to bring across in the first few lines and then go replace what I had created earlier.
However, the whole beginning scene might not work out the way you want it to work out. Try starting with different scenes, no matter how late in the plot they are placed. In the end, you might end up with many different scenes which you only have to stitch together somehow, and if you then have to rewrite a certain thing that also shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Nothing has to be written in order, especially not if you planned out the story in the beginning.
If that doesn’t help, you could try finding some new inspiration. Listen to music, look at pictures. If there is a scene you want to get finished but you just can’t find the right words, think about the setting and about the feeling. Imagine it was a movie. What would the setting look like, which music would play in the background? Try describing those things, search for words that match the atmosphere - because atmosphere is created a lot by means of lighting, music and colours on screen. What is it about sunsets that makes them so romantic? The dim, orange light, the almost black ocean, the soft sound of the waves?
You will find yourself confronted with many words that match the situation, with word fields you can look into, with phrases and metaphors that describe the situation just perfectly. Perhaps it’s easier to continue from there.
That doesn’t help either? Try talking to people. Describe your idea and your problem, ask them what they think about it. They might have a very different point of view and show you a direction you could write into that you perhaps never thought about. On the other hand, they can also help you figure out why exactly you can’t seem to be able to write anymore. They can help you resolving inner tension, which can help you free your mind for writing.
If you don’t know anyone you could talk to about your writing, try finding other ways of distracting. A common cause for writer’s block is having too much on your mind which is clogging up the pipes for your creativity. Freeing your mind can help you to focus on your projects, thus making it easier for you to free your mind. A very relaxing website which does free your mind at least to some degree is weavesilk.com - just play around with the colours and patterns, try seeing shapes in what you created, let the images inspire you. It doesn’t necessarily help, but you can give it a try. I often go back to that page whenever I feel like my mind is too full for being creative.
Another thing that can help you free your mind is freewriting. Just write down everything you have on your mind, regardless of style and sense. It’s similar to journaling, and writing things down definitely helps you to get them off your mind. Writing certain things away does help if you allow it to, and for me that was something that helped me a lot during times when things started to become too much. Freewriting doesn’t mean you have to write a story - it can be a bunch of random words, unconnected sentences, it doesn’t have to make sense as long as it helps you freeing your mind.
Sadly, there isn’t a definite cure for writer’s block. If it hits you and you know it won’t go away, there sometimes isn’t anything you can do about it. Try doing different things, spend your time doing something your writer’s block doesn’t affect, and stop thinking about it. If you always remind yourself of having a writer’s block, you might end up creating your very own demons in the end.
If you’ve been in this situation before as well, feel free to share your experiences and what helped you to get rid of your writer’s block in the comments down below.
Just on a side note - my personal recipe is a cup of tea, a good book and taking a walk afterwards. It might not work for everyone, but it does work for me as it gives me some time to think about what is clogging up my mind.