Having been writing since I was a tiny tot I’ve encountered many bouts of the thing serious writers dread the most: writer’s block. I can say to this day that I have about five “books” made of stapled paper with my scraggly 6-10 year old writing, and I never finished a single one. I have a 40,000 word novel-in-progress that I typed up in 2014 but scrapped because it was half-plagiarised (yes, I’m admitting I stole some ideas 😆) and sounded terrible. I also have over 10 word documents on my desktop with stories I started but never finished.
So I’m going to share with you the secret tricks that I use to combat writer’s block
- Read. Always always continue reading regardless of your ‘blockage’. It doesn’t even have to be in the genre you write in. For me, my daily reading comes in three parts: a novel of any genre (usually a fantasy in my case), a poetry book and my Instagram where I follow poets and literature pages. As long as you keep reading, your brain is constantly working and you’ll be subconsciously creating new ideas. Before you know it, your writer’s block will have vanished!
- Always keep a notebook close by (or something to take notes with). Often out of the blue I will have a split-second of a “revolutionary moment” where I’ll suddenly have some awesome phrase or word in my head that I’ll usually forget if I don’t write it down instantly. These moments are crucial as they could be the solution to your writer’s block. For me, it usually happens at night when I’m trying to sleep (it’s annoying 😑) Also, during my reading time, I’ll take notes of phrases I particularly like or fancy words that I can use in my future posts.
- Read your past works. Usually I find that when I’m stuck on ideas, refreshing my head by reading my old poems and proses really helps in reminding me of my writing style. Therefore, I can somehow find myself back into the flow of things and continue.
- Start plagiarising if you have to. Ok, this might sound bizarre, but it’s a really handy trick that I use from time to time. Usually my writer’s block comes in the form of the inability to start a poem or prose. I’ll have plenty of ideas, but I won’t know where to begin. So I’ll find some poem that I like, take the first phrase from that poem, and merge my ideas into that phrase. Usually while working I’ll have enough creative juices flowing again that I can go back and change the copied phrase into something of my own. There’s only so few ways you can start a text, so I sometimes even keep the first few words of the copied phrase and it sounds entirely like my own. Talk about being cheeky! Here’s an example of what I’ve done:
From Nikita Gill’s “Your Soul is a River” – Drowning
The thing is,
you can’t save people
because they will
just grab hold of you
like a lifeline,
you will both
and neither of you
There is only one way
to save someone
and that is
to teach them
how to swim.
The thing is,
when I fell into that ocean of despair,
I wanted to feel your
godsent arms wrap around
my torso and push me to the surface.
The last thing I expected you
to do was scatter my broken pieces
across the ocean like ashes.
You didn’t restore my serenity.
My home was never the ocean;
to me those darkened waters
were the writhing pits of hell.
- Plagiarise your own work. Another weird sounding one. However, this gives you more liberty to ACTUALLY plagiarise as it’s you fiddling around with your own work. I use the same process as the one I discussed above, and I’m not too afraid to keep entire phrases because after all, it’s my own work. However this probably won’t work if you’re writing longer texts, such as a novel. An example of where I’ve done this with my poetry is here…
From In pieces:
I didn’t wear my heart on my sleeve
For you to tear it off
And crush it underfoot.
I didn’t make a house of myself
For you to knock down the walls
And burn me alive.
I didn’t divulge my soul
For you to strip it bare
And shatter me like glass.
I didn’t cry in your arms
For you to push my head under
And drown me in my own tears.
So my question is:
Why did you?
From A house of myself:
I did not make a house of myself
for it to be occupied with someone
who only wanted to tear down the walls
and burn me
- Simply just stop writing and do something creative. Often I’m in such a huge slump that I can’t think of anything or have the motivation for anything. So I’ll announce a hiatus on my blog, then go take a breather and do other activies, such as practising my instruments or listening to music. Usually my creativity taps start flowing again once I’m jumping from project to project and I can resume my writing.
- Brain vomit. Or a more nicer way to say it is freewrite. Take a moment and just splurge everything in your brain onto a piece of paper (or your screen). It doesn’t have to be punctuated, have correct grammar, or even correct spelling. Usually a lot of my brain vomits are letting out my bottled-up emotions, and from there I can slowly edit them into a poem by changing some words and adding a few metaphors here and there.
Let me know if you have any other tricks! I’d love to read your thoughts!