One Simple Way To Cure Writer’s Block Forever
I used to suffer from writer’s block.
I also used to believe in the strange idea that a writer should put out one book a year, like most of my favourite authors do. I also believed that Stephen King was an outlier in that he could publish multiple books a year.
It all added up to me writing not very much, and a strange dissonance. After all, when I was at University, I’d write a five thousand word essay the day it was due – yet it was impossible for fiction writers who got paid to write to manage more than few hundred words a day.
The back story is pretty insignificant, but I spent a month (NaNoWriMo) dedicated to writing as much as I could.
I figured that if people could write a thousand words a day whilst having a full time job and everything, then I could do the same.
In fact, I wanted to do better than that.
I wanted to write ten thousand words a day. My goal was three tenths of a million words for that month.
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At the time, I had a grand total of about ten thousand words published. I’d sold a couple of short stories, and nothing else. My plan was ludicrous.
But it worked.
Now, most of those words weren’t very good. In fact, most of them were barely passable. But they existed.
Ever since that month a couple of years’ back, I haven’t had a single day where I’ve suffered from writer’s block. Some days I don’t write anything. See last month’s report for evidence of that. But that’s because I’m doing other stuff. Or I’m being lazy. It’s not writer’s block.
So what’s the secret?
How To Overcome Writer’s Block Forever
I’m not going to ask you to write two hundred thousand words in a month. If you did though, you’d probably never suffer from writer’s block ever again.
All you need to do is sit at your computer. (Or typewriter if you’re a hipster.)
Open up wordpad. When it comes to breaking writer’s block, Wordpad is much better than Word because you’ve got no idea how many words you’re writing.
The cure to breaking writer’s block forever is to sit and type. If you’re an elite warrior, you can make the challenge harder by getting a timer and setting it to one hour.
I know this works, because I did exactly that. Whenever I feel tempted to not work or feel tempted to believe in writer’s block, I set my timer for an hour. I then open up wordpad, and if I’m charitable to myself, I’ll set up some instrumental music for a playlist for the hour.
Then I type.
In On Writing, Stephen King talks about how you should make your muse come to you by sitting down every day at the same time until your body gets in the habit. My technique is kind of like that, but we’re being a bit more forceful with our muse.
Sit down and type. It doesn’t matter if you type nonsense for that hour. It doesn’t matter if you never use any of your words for any purpose. The goal of the hour is to say to your subconscious mind, “When that timer starts and wordpad is open, I am writing. Nothing else.”
No toilet breaks. No YouTube. No distractions. One hour, constant typing. Don’t look out of the window. Don’t look for any notes or “world build” for your novel. Just write for an hour.
You’ll probably find that for the first five minutes or so, you’re writing nothing. Keep going.
My first few sessions like this gave me text files talking about my day, my plans and how bored I was with writing and sitting there. If I couldn’t think of anything to write, I would write sentence after sentence saying, “Mm. Ahh. I can’t think of anything to write. Nothing. Not a thing. Still nothing. Bored. Fifty eight minutes to go.”
You can do that. It’s fine. Trust me.
Eventually your body and mind will start to come around to your way of thinking. The sentences will be more like, “When I start actually writing, I can write about this, this and that.”
Before you know it, you’ll be writing at a really fast rate, and you’ll have broken the writer’s block habit without knowing it.
Then you’ll be mad when the timer runs out and you were in the flow zone.
Just set the timer and go again.
If you’re a full time writer, then you have as many hours in the day as anyone working professionally at any job. If you work 9-5 and you write one thousand words an hour, then you can write 8000 words in a day. Obviously that’s at the high-end of what you’ll likely accomplish, but 1000 words a day is an hour or two’s work for most writers. If you averaged just over a thousand words a day, you’d be writing half a million words a year.
In short, you can write a lot more than you think you can. Even if you’re working a full time job and you work for an hour in the evening.
Writer’s block is something that kills that figure. If you have ten days in a month where you don’t write anything, then that’s the difference between writing a novel and not in that month.
Writer’s block is expensive. It’s a mental block that you can recover from.
Recovering from writer’s block is easy.
Get rid of all distractions.
Set an hour timer.
Write whatever comes to your mind for that hour, non-stop.
Keep repeating these hour sessions until you train your brain into knowing that sit-down-and-write time means exactly that; you sit down and write.
Employing beat sheets, cheat sheets and bullet point plans are just icing on the cake – really, the cure to writer’s block is to force yourself to write.