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It happens to everyone at some point or another: you have an idea, but no clue where to start. Or you have a daily word count goal and nomotivation. Or you’ve written yourself into a metaphorical corner with no way out. Writer’s Block: the bane of every writer everywhere.
Unfortunately, I face writer’s block quite often. It’s a side effect of my current muse-less existence. But sometimes I get a flash fiction prompt, or a vague idea, or even just a starting phrase and I need to flex my writerly muscles and get to work on something I’m not as inspired by or write something that I’m not 100% comfortable with. When that happens, I have one surefire technique that I like to use.
Well, a few different techniques, but they’re all variations on the same theme, which is to shut off distractions, write like crazy for a set amount of time, and stop caring if it’s good or not.
For longer projects, the best way to do this, for me, is NaNoWriMo. Writing 1,667 words a day (or more) given my already loaded schedule requires that I lock my internal editor away and stop caring quite as much about quality. I don’t necessarily get amazing words out, but I get an editable first daft, and a few nuggets of pure gold that are enough to keep me going through the editing process.
On days when I’m struggling to focus, I need to shut off my access to the internet, otherwise I will keep checking Facebook, twitter, and various other sources of entertainment and amusement in an attempt to distract myself. Sometimes it’s enough to turn off my WiFi for a while or use Freedom (my preference, because it comes with a built-in timer), but on really bad days, I sometimes have to pack up and move somewhere (usually a coffee shop or pub) where there is no internet, or where using the internet would drain my laptop battery (I don’t bring my charger)
And when I’m working on something that’s really not working or that I’m struggling to get ‘right’, I turn to the ultimate weapon: Write or Die. Developed by the amazing Dr. Wicked, this web-based and downloadable program not only lets you set a time and word count goal, but it punishes you when you stop writing. Depending on the setting this can be anything from a red screen to your words suddenly deleting themselves if you stop typing for a certain length of time. Even if I keep hitting the space bar or start stream-of-consciousness writing, eventually I manage to come up with something using this program. As Dr. Wicked says, it puts the “prod” in productivity, and it’s often the boot in the butt that I need.
Writer’s block hits everyone at one time or another, but I’ve found ways to combat it that work well for me. What ways work for you?