How to Conquer Writer’s Block

We all get stuck writing at one time or another. And it often returns to haunt us. So I made up a short list of things one can do in effort to get over this wall.

1. Switch up your medium. If your primary source is banging out words on the computer, move to pencil and paper. Preferably a notebook of some kind to keep it all neat and orderly. Or try a tape recorder. Smart phones have one built right in. Transcribe during your next session at the keyboard.

2. Change the font size and font face of your document. Having a new visual perspective can fool your brain into a reboot of sorts. It may also help with screen fatigue.

3. Reboot yourself. Leave the computer and go for a walk or putter around the house doing chores. It can really help to clear your head if you’re focusing on another task.

4. Explosions and kicking in the door. Another think to break the hold of writer’s block is to stir things up by having someone knock at the door or kick it in. Explosions or space ship crashes can do that as well. You don’t need to keep said scenes in your book if you don’t want to, but this exercise provides the chance to view your characters and scenes from a different angle.

5. Music or complete silence. Be it character theme songs or your old favorites. Listen to the beats, the themes, and the melodies to create the moods you’re searching for.  Some writers also need just quiet. And sometimes silence works best, depending upon one’s mood. 

5 ½.  Ambient stations can help you focus.  The internet is full of them. Free ones, and paid subscriptions. Check out my detailed blog post of them here.

6. Talk it out. If you don’t have support at home, turn to the internet. Find other writers who will support you and who are interested in your work. Sign up for Skype or use Facebook messenger. Yahoo messenger if they’re still around. Anything that will provide an instant conversation to examine what your blocks are.

6 ½. Find a moment and just close your eyes. Turn your thoughts inward. Hash it out with the characters who are giving you the big middle finger. What do they want? Listen to what they’re telling you. If they’re still giving you the cold shoulder, start offering them goodies to see what peaks their interest. Pancakes? A phone call? A new car? A date? A much needed vacation? Sometimes bribes work wonders. Just be certain to follow through with those bribes because if you don’t, they…will…remember and may cause more trouble for you in the future.

7.  When you do start writing, consider stopping right smack dab in the middle of a sentence or even character dialog.  That can provide the momentum needed to launch yourself in your next writing session. 

8. Know your ending and where you’re going in the story. If you’re a pantser, toy with writing a short synopsis or a “lead in” of sorts.  

9. Lastly, here’s a super simple one. Clean up your work space and dust off your keyboard. Physical clutter instills mental clutter and that can cause a frustration you’re not even aware of. A neat space often translates into a calm and focused mind which means more words! Now get out and write.

Ambient Noise For Writers

Edit: April 2017 brings two new additions to the list!

It’s 1am, and you’re wide-awake. You want to rip into your manuscript but you miss that creative energy a rainstorm or coffee shop offers. There are solutions. Apps. And streaming websites.

CDs for nature sounds are difficult to find, and nowadays to most people, may be a little passé. It’s time consuming to hunt them down. Even then, you’re likely to wind up finding the ones with the intrusive musical instruments added (that pop up at the wrong times). That could be said for any of the downloadable MP3’s, etc. And how many people have use for CDs anymore, other than precious hard copy backups? (For which flash drives can also be a substitute, but I’m getting off topic.)

If you’re concerned about bandwith, taking the time to look around for a CD would be worth it. Just read the descriptions carefully. I’ve found too many that feature music. Purchasing a track from places like iTunes, and downloading it is another option.

Writers write. They can hang out for hours, and sometimes the library isn’t a good, all day venture–especially when school lets out.

The coffee shop noises coming from your mobile device are a welcome bonus if you’re concerned about getting an earful from management because you’ve overstayed your visit. Or worry that the lone cup on your table will get you ejected if the place starts to get crowded.

calmradio

The first writer-assist ambient sound I encountered was Calm Radio. Calm Radio is a membership site. Commercial-free content is offered for a varied monthly sum. At the time I wrote up this original post, they had over 140 channels that include classical music, nature sounds, and white noise. When I had a membership, I went mostly for the crickets and frogs. Or the Gregorian chants.

rainycafe

Rainy Cafe gives you all the hustle and bustle of a cafe. You can listen to rain. You can listen to the cafe. Either by itself, or in tandem. This is free. You can adjust the volume on either sound, but beware that jarring crack of awesome thunder.

sounddrown

Soundrown is one of my favorites. This is also free. But the cool thing about it is that you can also mix and match. You have coffee shop, rain, waves, fire, birds, night, train, fountain, white noise, and playground. Coffee shop by the beach? You got it. Or how about a crackling fire at night?

Thunderspace

Thunderspace is available from the AppStore for a small fee. I still haven’t tried it yet, but the sample has such crisp, and powerful sound when heard under headphones. It also has realistic lightning flashes.

Noisli

And now, a new listing and one of my current favorites. Noisli. This is also free. It has the multiple choice of mixing sounds, but it also has a timer, a text editor, and you can save and share your favorite combinations with friends. The background screen slowly changes colors. Noisli also offers white noise, pink noise, and blue noise. Humming fans, and the calming drone of a train on tracks are also offered.

Two New Favorite Discoveries for 2017

A Soft Murmur has my all time favorites that you can mix and match. Crickets, rain, thunder, coffee shop and more. I do love the addition of the singing bowl with the rain and crickets.

The Moodil interface looks similar to Noisli, but showcases a few alternate sounds as well as old favorites.  A surprise under the coffee shop icon reveals English, French, German, and a pub. The footsteps button reveals gravel, pavement, or snow. And most exciting is the bird icon has crows, blackbirds, or nightingales! Again, mix and match for the best mood of your manuscript. Moodil also comes in a downloadable app for the Android, and it says using the app doesn’t need an internet connection. I have not yet tested that.