It’s not always easy to keep writing in spite of it all. Whether you are disheartened by writer’s block or by the futility of it all, sometimes you just need to trick yourself into carrying on. This is a list of some of the best writing hacks which are just slightly out-of-the-box, because to be honest, we’ve all tried the obvious ones.
Consider this: writer’s block doesn’t exist. Maybe, just maybe, it is an excuse we use when writing gets tough. I’m trying to think of any other kind of block I experience: meal block; nope, never. Wine block; ha, obviously not, I’m a writer for goodness sake. TV block; sorry, can’t miss The Walking Dead for anything. Anyway, maybe you’re getting the message I’m trying to get across; you don’t get a sudden block when it comes to doing the enjoyable things, so why do we get a block when it comes to writing? Because we don’t want to admit we’ve run out of ideas or we’re not trying hard enough. Sorry, but there’s truth there. Imagine going into work as a accountant and saying to the boss: “Sorry, I’m just going to stare at a blank spread sheet all day because I have accountant’s block. Oh, and I might just play computer games all day to take my mind off it, okay?”
Always have two writing projects on the go. This does seem a bit of a strange thing to do, but we’ve all had that moment when we are working hard on a project and we just run out of steam and want to murder the lead character. More often that not, this is just a case of working on something for too long and it becomes hard to see the wood for the trees. This is where your second writing project is an absolute saving grace; you don’t need to stop writing, you simply need to switch focus and use fresh eyes. If your main focus is a novel you have been working on, have your second focus as your blog, an article you’re pitching to a magazine, or even spicing up your Amazon author profile. As soon as you start to feel that you are spinning your wheels on your novel, switch it. Even if you just spend 15 minutes planning a blog post, you will arrive back at your novel with renewed enthusiasm.
Don’t only write when you’ve set time aside to write. Seem daft? Well, not really. Imagine you have set aside three hours for writing when the kids are at school, so you sit down with your word document and…..nothing. There’s a debate about whether we should wait for the muse to kick in or just be disciplined enough to write to a schedule, but I think it’s actually a bit of both. So have your schedule; that’s very important, but also be open to writing anywhere at any time, even if it’s just writing half a page on your iPhone during your daughter’s trampoline lesson.
Have a ritual. Make it as bizarre as you like; every time you sit down to write, put on a baseball cap, or a special pair of socks, or a colourful bangle. It seems strange but it’s a great way of sending a clear message to your reluctant brain: ‘No more excuses: it’s writing time’. It’s like putting on your running shoes before exercising; it’s a clear and definite action that commits you. It’s really surprising how quickly this works so start this immediately.
Bribe yourself. You need to be good at self accountability to make this one work. Give in just once and you probably won’t be able to use it again because you will know that you can easily overrule yourself. The best bribe I have used and still use all the time when I know I need to be writing is my dogs. I have two dogs and I love them to bits; I am some sort of crazy dog woman. I tell myself that my dogs don’t get their walkies until I have written 500 words and it works like a dream because I don’t like letting the doggies down.
Remember that what you’re doing is exciting. You’re a writer! Even if you only manage to write for a few minutes a day, don’t forget the journey you are on. Remind yourself every time you write that you have taken another step towards finishing that book/article/blog post; it all counts, and it’s all wonderful. Enjoy!