5 Unusual and Practical Ways To Break Writer’s Block

Below are 2 practical and 3 unusual ways to help overcome writer’s block. Most of these revolve around immersing yourself into your story, while some suggest taking a step back. Sometimes all you need is a seed of inspiration to have you busting through that writer’s block like the the Kool-Aid man. Ah, apologies. Only people who grew up in the 90s or earlier will get that reference.

Unusual

1. Draw your characters. Or draw the warehouse or stronghold or spy headquarters in your novel. Design the room your gentleman frequents, or even more intriguing, the room your lady finds respite in. Or just doodle something entirely irrelevant to your novel and let your mind wander.

If you don’t like to draw, Pinterest is a great way to stimulate visualization of your work. If you want to be a perfectionist about it, here’s a how-to to make a really professional, themed storyboard for your novel. Below is the board I am working on for my novel, The Seer. As you can see from my board, there are foreign landscapes and travel in the novel. Because The Seer takes place in faraway places and dated societies, Pinterest has aided me in going to those places and seeing those societies.

2017-03-26

Board for The Seer

Practical

2. Read. You’re probably rolling your eyes, writers. But truly, stop drafting/editing/revising and take some time to read. And read outside of your comfort zone at that. Here’s a WriterUnboxed post on the benefits of changing up your reading habits. I never read biographies, but I’ve picked one up on my favorite author, Charlotte Brontë (Harman, 2015), and have gotten loads of inspiration for my Gothic romance WIP, Wrathmoor. And from the smallest things too:

“Patrick Brontë’s [Charlotte’s father] quirks included…having a ‘volcanic’ temper that he sometimes relieved by firing his pistols out of the back door ‘in rapid succession’.”

Unusual

3. Make a mix tape/CD/youtube/spotify soundtrack for your novel. There are songs I will forever associate with certain novels of mine, because they belong, heart and soul, to those characters. For instance, Loreena McKennitt’s Beltane Fire Dance will forever be associated with the novel mentioned above, The Seer, and Apocalyptica’s Metallica covers are being hardily applied to Wrathmoor for the good ole’ Metallica rage expressed through a mid-nineteenth-century-approved instrument, the cello.

Practical

4. Take a day off. Or a week. Seriously. Either from work, or from your writing, or both. Sometimes all you need is a reboot to come back to your work with a fresh eye and mind.

Unusual

5. Make a map. So your novel has an epic scene in a Buddhist temple or maybe a battle on a mountain side? Or maybe it has a ton of townships, cities, and ports. Make a map. You can do this the old fashioned way. For my fantasy WIP, Blood of the Realm, I dyed watercolor paper with tea water to make an approximation of parchment. I may or may not have referred to Tolkien’s Middle Earth for inspiration.

middle earth

You can also take a more modern approach. If you own the PS3 game FarCry 3, you can use the map feature option for your novels! Writers, even if you’re not a gamer, this game–which would surely be on discount now–might be worth it solely for this feature. The game takes place on a tropical island amid the Indian and Pacific Oceans. There are countless combinations of different landscapes you can create and landmarks. You can even adjust the time of day and weather. It is one of the most unique and immersive ways, in my opinion, of diving into your own story.

FarCry3

WallpaperSafari.com

 


After finishing my 6th novel in January, I had been pretty stagnant, just working on rewrites to an older novel, and nary a poem or short story in sight. But since I took vacation from my job, unearthed the “soundtracks” for my novels, and reading a lot, including things outside my usual reading repertoire, something has opened inside of me, creatively.

Have you ever tried any of these block breakers? Any others to suggest?

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6 Responses to 5 Unusual and Practical Ways To Break Writer’s Block

  1. ElleKurz says:

    Reading has always worked for me. Or completely severing ties with the novel altogether and starting something else until my creativity is diverted back to the idea. It may sound unusual, but it works a lot. I think of it as venting. I vent my frustration on another idea that I don’t particularly care about until I feel relaxed enough to refocus, or am able to solve whatever plot hiccup or lapse in logic stifled me in the first place. I really like the video game maps! That’s genius.

  2. I’ve done almost all of these at one point or another! The map one is iffy; I just hand-sketched a rough layout of a town area. I’m not good at that and had never thought to use a game to make one. Great idea! And a nice reminder for me to take a little time to play for my current WIP. Sometimes I forget I don’t always have to be in super serious work mode. Happy to hear you branched into a biography and got some good ideas from it!

  3. 1. I hate to break it to you, but the Kool-Aid man has been around since the 70s.

    2. I also use soundtracks for my novels, but I love the idea of a map. It might be just the thing to help with one of my projects!

    3. Your 6th novel?! You inspire me, friend.

    • 1. Bwahaha! I was thinking only of people who might read this who were younger than me.
      2. I would love to hear about the project you would need the map for!
      3. None of the 6 being completely finished yet, mind. What with the thousand revisions I always have to do. I am in awe of all your short stories and poetry!

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