One of the most common complaints that we hear from authors is the problem of writer's block. While the stress of trying to force yourself to write may give you a headache, writers block is not something that you can simply take a pill to make go away. Writer's block is personal and unique to each person who sits to write. That said, there are some techniques that anyone can use to rekindle the fires and get back to writing.
The most common bit of advice usually given to authors is to give themselves some space from what they are working on, to allow it to gestate in the unconscious mind; then it will come forth when it is ready. In truth, however, what usually ends up happening is that we give our writing a little bit of time, which turns into more time, until it is just a memory of something we had wanted to write. If we give ourselves more than a week or two, the odds of ever completing the project decrease dramatically.
Giving yourself more distance is not necessarily the best way of dealing with your writer's block, especially if you eventually want to complete your project. A better way is to deal with your block in a proactive manner; in other words, do something, but do something different.
Writer's block can often be summed up as, â€œI don't know what to say next!â€ At this point, perhaps it's time to step back and review your project as a whole. When writing, you are focused on the immediate sentence, paragraph or chapter. Instead, take a moment to review of your whole project. Look at your book or project summary and reread it to get a feel for your whole book, not just the part where you are stuck. If you don't have an overall summary of your book, then this is the time to create one. (Truthfully, the best time to create your book synopsis is before you start writing your book, but better late than never.) If you do have a summary, review it and perhaps edit it.
For a fiction book, review your outline for your main characters. If you don't have one, then, once again, this is the time to create one. Why, you ask, do you need to do this extra work? There are several reasons. It will help maintain consistency and save a lot in future editing. It helps to flesh out your characters and bring them to life, allowing your characters to write themselves as you complete your book. And most important is that you are doing something, you may not be writing your book, but you are writing about your book and doing something that will get the creative juices flowing again and bring back the original excitement you had when starting your book.
Sometimes it is helpful to write a different section. If you're not sure where to go in the middle but already know how your book will end, which you really should know before starting your book, write the last chapter. Writing the ending can often times help know what to write to get there. A non-fiction book is different, in that you do not have character development, but you still have an overall synopsis of your book, along with a synopsis for each chapter. Well you do don't you? You know the answer: If you don't have one, then complete one. If you have one, then review and refine it. Additionally, for a non-fiction book, there is often a lot of research needed for the various points you want to make. A block often signals uncertainty about the information you are writing. Go and do some research, write it down and get back to your book.
Now for the best kept secret for dealing with writer's block, which is simply to tell somebody. That right, find a friend and tell them about your book. It's usually easier to talk than to write, so you can use someone as a sounding board. If you're stuck at a particular place, tell the story as if you are narrating your book, and the story will once again appear.
Your book already exists in your mind; you're just stuck and need a little help to get beyond this point. By telling your story you are writing your story. If you have a friend who understands what is going on, they can help you by asking probing questions to draw out details and get you back on track. Writers groups are particularly useful here, with participants taking turns to tell their story, or asking stimulating questions, which serve to uncover the hidden stories in others. Working as a team helps everyone do a better job. Don't have a writers group? Start one!