You’re flying along churning out page after page of your novel, when suddenly you find yourself stuck like lint to a lint brush. No matter how much you try, you can’t shake yourself loose. You can’t get a decent thought on the page for anything. Eventually you give up trying. You’re frustrated, puzzled, worried. What the heck is going on here?
Some call it writer’s block. Others believe there is no such thing. I won’t argue about terminology or definitions. I will say this: wherever you fall on the writer’s block belief spectrum, if you write long and hard enough you will eventually hit a slump. It may be a long one or a short one. But when it happens, the worst thing you can possibly do is hope it will soon go away on its own. No, my dear writer. The longer you let a writing slump linger, the harder it is to break free.
So get proactive. Below are some things you can try to kick that pain...in the ass. But here’s the thing. They won’t work unless you actually try them.
1) Instead of a power nap, take a creative nap. How does that work? Before you drift off to sleep think about the part of your writing where you got stuck. Your mind will get to work while you’re sleeping and solve the problem for you. If a nap won’t do the trick, try this at night before drifting off. Yes, it really can work.
2) Read nonfiction books about writing. They can be inspirational books or books on writing techniques. This often gets the writing wheels churning again, and you find yourself itching to get back to work. I use this method all the time.
3) Try mind-mapping. In the center of a blank page write a a few words describing the scene or character you’re stuck on and draw a circle around it. Then let your mind wander, adding whatever comes up, with branches and more circles. This allows you to think freely without the confines or structure of thinking in sentences and paragraphs or trying to follow your outline. There are lots of websites and books on mind-mapping as well as software and apps to use if you prefer to work electronically.
4) If you need a more long-term fix, learn something new. This will really shake things up and get your brain out of a deep rut. Some ideas: dancing lessons, yoga and meditation.
And if the slump gets really serious, here are a couple of hugely successful books to help you cope: The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level. by Gay Hendricks, and The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield.