You are writing the perfect story. You know the characters inside and out, you’ve established their world, you’ve even developed the story’s ending.
But your characters have stopped speaking to you.
You turn to desperate tactics, writing all hours of the night, spending every waking hour wrestling with your book.
When in reality you need to step away.
To take a break from your writing and see the world through new eyes.
All too often, our hectic lives and ever-occupied writer minds become so focused that our books, our words are all we see. We write until we burn out, and then wonder how writer’s block could have gotten its hold on us.
We’ve drained ourselves of our creativity.
And once you reach that point, it’s a struggle to ever get back to where you were.
I’ve learned this the hard way. For years I spent every free hour writing, exploring new worlds, and uncovering explosive plots.
Then it happened.
For over a year, I wandered in painful writer’s block, writing meaningless scenes and even more meaningless characters, and unable to find my way back into the stories no matter how hard I tried.
It was an eternity of agony.
I nursed cup after cup of coffee in my local cafe and strained my mind in a desperate attempt to recapture my stories. I read book after book, testing their plot points, dissecting their dialogues, exploring their POV styles.
That’s when the miracle happened.
I learned the benefit of silence. Of sitting alone with my coffee and my books. Of exploring others’ viewpoints and watching and listening to everything going on around me.
Of simply stepping away to refresh my brain.
Little by little, my characters stepped back into my mind. Shyly reopened the doors to their worlds, and let me back in.
By then I had learned a valuable lesson.
Sometimes we need to pretend our stories don’t exist.
Now when I find my creativity running low, I gather any books that snag my attention and sit down with my coffee in a quiet corner to peruse the pages. If it is the middle of my story that’s bogging me down, I study the books’ middle. Study the pace, the tone, the characterization. What did the authors do to keep the story moving?
Study the different styles, the different methods, the different flavors of the books, if you will.
Soak your senses with words.
As writers, our jobs can sometimes seem unending, and our writing can easily grow stale. Give yourself a break. Let your mind break free of the constraints of time and place, and travel to new worlds of imagination.
Then feed that imagination coffee.
(OK, OK, just my suggestion. I didn’t say it’s a foolproof recipe. Only that it always always always works.)
For now, please excuse me.
I think I need more coffee.
Disclaimer: Too much coffee may make you wide awake and ultra creative. Use only at your own discretion.
What about you? How do you break past writer’s block?