The Trick I Used to Overcome 4 Months of Writers' Block


Êl síla erin lû e-govaned vîn! During spring and winter of this year, I suffered from severe bouts of writers’ block. It didn’t apply just to the primary story I’m working on right now, making me think the story itself was intrinsically flawed and there was no way I could finish it, but also to everything I tried to write. It felt the part of my brain that usually spews prose had cramped up. It couldn’t be persuaded to spit out more than a couple decent sentences before sputtering and dying.
Until I had a breakthrough.
I changed one thing about my writing, and everything fell into place. My brain felt totally rejuvenated and was able to roll out chapter after chapter day after day.
So what did I do?
I switched from writing in past tense to present.
Switching up my style allowed my ideas to flow in new stylistic and even plotline directions they’d never gone before. By changing to a tense in which fantasy is less often told, I was able to break from traditional turns of phrase I often didn’t realize I was slipping in to my writing and cliché plot points I was painfully aware I was dragging around. It was like looking at everything through a totally fresh lens.
But say you don’t want to change the time tense in which you write, either from past to present or vice versa. What other stylistic changes could you make?
  • Change if you write in first or third person, or, if you’re looking for a real challenge, try penning something in second
  • Change the genre. Transform your fantasy into contemporary or historical fiction into horror. Maybe try combining two genres that are rarely seen together, like magical realism and sci-fi.
  • Try going from one constant narrator to multiple POVs or vice versa.
  • Change the format of your story. Is it a novella? See if you can condense it into a short story. A novel? Try transforming it into a poem. If you’re an artist, sketching a scene or two like a manga or graphic novel could even help.
Writing just a chapter using one of these changes could give you the momentum for a breakthrough. Who knows, maybe a certain change won’t work for you. I’ve never been able to write in first person, so I know that’s not a change that would have helped me. But trying a few different things – mixing up your writing – could have great effects. Even if you don’t have a total breakthrough, this mix-up could at least generate some new ideas that take your style, characters, and writing as a whole in a new direction.
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Let’s chat, everyone! I hope this can help some of you, especially with NaNo coming up. How often do you get writers’ block? How do you handle it? Comment below, and have a fabulous day. <3
Namarië,
Ellie

4 comments:

  1. I usually change the utensil I use to write. During Nano last year I got stuck horribly while using Scrivener. Switching to google docs helped somewhat, but what really helped me get over that block was to just screw technology and go analog. writing by hand is the best way for me to get it on the page, and this frustrates me so much because it takes twice as long to write and then type it up as it does to type it up (those left behind is still untyped so I have no exact wordcount....). but it works and I'm not going to complain (too much). I also switch between present tense and past tense when I can't figure out how to say something in whatever my original tense. it makes editing somewhat of a hassle, but as long as it gets it written, that's a win in my book.

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    1. Oh, that's definitely something I should have included! Thanks for the tip! I'm also able to keep ideas flowing better when writing by hand, but I usually stick with the computer for convenience's sake. Haha, yes - you can edit a mess, but you can't edit a blank page.

      - Ellie

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  2. It's great to hear that you overcame your writer's block. My issue is perfectionism, but this month for NaNo, I'm forcing myself to just write whatever comes to my mind first and finish this project.

    Good luck to you!

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    1. Thanks! Best of luck to you as well :) haha, that's a huge problem I have as well. I often end up editing as I go, which slows progress a lot.

      - Ellie

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