5 Ways to Stay Focused and Overcome Writer’s Block

Stay Focused and Overcome Write's BlockI’ve seen a lot of posts lately (perhaps it’s a February trend?) about authors struggling to be motivated to write.

I get it – it can be tough to get in the groove, but here are some strategies that may help:

1. Turn off the Internet – Online distractions a problem?  They are for me.  I spend entirely too much time looking at funny YouTube videos, listening to Ted Talks, and reading blogs.  Although, I’ve heard about plenty of authors that keep toggling between Facebook, Twitter, and email instead of writing (you know who you are!).  Not to mention my wife on release day hitting refresh 1000 times checking her Amazon rankings 🙂 If this is your problem – I’d highly suggest turning the Internet off while it’s “productivity time” – of course you can do this manually, but there is a program called Freedom for PC and Mac (https://macfreedom.com/) that works wonders.  You simply “I’m going to write for an hour” and what do you know – you can’t use the Internet during that time!  Mondo pages written without the distractions.

2. Sit your butt in that chair until it’s done: This is my wife’s strategy.  It’s basically a “suck it up and write until it’s done strategy.”  Every day, my wife has a page goal – She won’t leave her chair or do other things until the pages are written.  If it takes 2 hours or 5, she sits there until she hits her page goal.

3. Spend some time plotting. I’ve talked to many pantsers (people who write by the seat of their pants), that when it really gets down to it, they are not sure where to go next or how to connect scenes.  I know you hate this word, but take some time to plot.  Don’t want to call it plotting? how about take some time to brainstorm.  Take a piece of paper and a pencil and just start putting down some ideas like:

Throw Momma from the Train

The night was humid.

  • Main character’s mother called?
  • Someone gets stuck up a tree?
  • Everyone gets killed by giant centipedes

See where I’m going with this one?  Just try to break it down a little and think critically about what must come next.  Once you know what comes next, getting a few more pages done will be a piece of cake.

4. Fix it in the 1st edit.  In the movie Throw Mama from the Train, Billy Crystal’s character is up all knight agonizing over the first line – finally settling with: “The night was humid.”  If you’re hung up on something, don’t fall into this trap.  Get the story on paper and THEN you can take some time to edit and re-write it.  You can always edit it later!!!!  However, I know you’ll be surprised when reading it back -5. Take a break if you can.  I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but if you’ve been in front of the screen for days and are out of ideas then give yourself a break.  Sometimes you’ll get that golden idea while playing basketball, fishing, going for a walk, spending time with friends or even watching a movie.  You never know when the idea will come to you, and you may find that an hour or two away from the keyboard is all you need to kick-start your writing engine again.

So… Authors! If you’ve dealt with writer’s block, please comment below – What did you do to re-focus and overcome writers block?

Posted in Writing Advice.

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