I’ve been working on my novel long enough to expect to get stuck in a rut at least once a week. What I make sure, though, is that these ‘recovery periods’ as I call them, do not last for long. Sometimes you can get overwhelmed, tired, stressed out, or simply frightened and short periods of time to get yourself back together and refresh your thoughts do come in handy, but beware that they do not take over entirely. No matter what you call it, writer’s block, lack of inspiration, recovery, or being stuck, the procrastination period is bound to happen. It is important that you recognise it on time and develop methods to overcome it. Writers have different ways of dealing with writer’s block and mine is rather head on, grab the beast by the horns and bring it to the ground.
The first thing that you need to do is you have to be objective and strict with yourself. Recognise the problem that you’re facing and find the ways to handle it. Think why is it that you got stuck. Is it a tricky place in the plot? Did you get lost? Did you just get bored of your own book? Are you burning out? Are you allocating enough time for writing? Are you worried that your work is not good enough? Figure out what your problem is, and then look for ways to solve it. Join a community, ask for help from a friend (it does not have to be a bookish friend – just tell them the piece of the plot that you got stuck in and ask them if they were the character what would they do next, you can work with their suggestions and adapt them to suit your purpose), or read works of similar nature to your own and see how other writers tackled the problem. Eventually, you will gather the info and paste it together into a solution of your own making.
If you feel that the gap between you and your work is widening, re-immerse yourself into the world that you’re writing about. Do some research, read non-fiction texts that deal with similar or same topics. Research the historical background, watch documentaries, read art books, philosophy, psychology, biography, encyclopedias, mythology (Norse, Greek, Native American, Slavic), or newspapers. They will remind you why you found your subject so appealing in the first place, provide you with more depth and dimension that you can add to your writing, and propel you to move forward. If nothing else, you will feel bad about all of the research just going to waste.
3. Get the Wheels Turning
You know that sweet feeling when your thoughts seem to be in sync, when you just touch the keyboard and words start flowing, as if out of nowhere, when you start coming up with ideas, events, and characters you never knew you had in you? Those are the ideas that had been germinating inside of you for a while and are finally ready to get out. Eliminate distractions, set your priorities, and get yourself back into your writing mode. Start writing and eventually you’ll get there. Write poetry, stream of consciousness, journal, describe your room, the weather, or the woman waiting at the bus stop in front of the supermarket, write a blog post, just put pen to paper and see what comes out. It will draw you back in the zone, and when you’re there, use the momentum to get back to your project.
Writers have their own different ways of getting themselves out of the rut: reading a book, brewing coffee, knitting, making a timeline, listening to music, or going for a walk. It doesn’t really matter what it is that you do, as long as it gets you back on track. Now think and plan, how are you going to get yourself moving next time you get stuck?
© 2017 Erna G.