Have you ever sat down to write, knowing what you want to work on, but as soon as your document opens up, you just can’t form words?
Just as we all have good writing days, we all have bad ones, too. And that’s okay! That’s part of the writing process.
So, how can you fill your writing time on those days when you just can’t get words on paper? I’ve compiled a list of a few things that might help you get your creative energy flowing again.
// Do some chores
That’s the old joke, right? That writers will clean their house when they can’t focus. But maybe you need to get stuff done! But it goes beyond a joke and can actually help clear some of your creative blocks.
Agatha Christie, famous novelist, once said, “The best time to plan a book is while doing the dishes.” I think Dame Christie had the right idea!
Mindless activities like dusting and sweeping give your body and brain a chance to relax… and get bored. Yes, boredom is key!
The link between boredom and creativity has been well-studied by scientists around the world, and they’ve found that boredom promotes creativity and problem-solving. When we get bored, our brains start to look for other ways to entertain themselves, usually through daydreams and imagining new situations.
If that’s not perfect for working through a creative block, I don’t know what is.
// Read a book
If you’re feeling stuck in your project, take a break to go read.
Writing and reading are the core practices to become a better writer, and so when your writing isn’t going so well, revert back to reading.
This exposes you to other styles, voices, and possibly genres than what you’re working on. Not only can you learn tons of new skills from studying other writers, but you might become inspired, too.
Just remember that there’s a fine line between being inspired and plagiarizing.
Just like research has shown boredom promotes creativity, so does exercise.
That doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon. Walking around the block can help your brain, as can exercising regularly.
When writing gets particularly hard, move your body! It doesn’t matter how, just move it in a way that feels good. You could dance around the house, practice yoga, lift weights, play a sport, take a walk, go hiking, swim… the possibilities are endless!
And if you want an extra creativity boost, try exercising at least three times a week. Science suggests that’s the best way to get long-term benefits for your brain.
// Engage with your other hobbies
Even if writing is a hobby for you and you have no aspirations for publishing (which is totally okay!), surely you have other interests as well.
Maybe you love playing video games, or maybe you’re a movie buff. Perhaps you’re a visual artist or like to sew.
Whatever your hobbies and interests are outside of writing, engage with those when you need a break from words. In fact, you should regularly participate in your other hobbies. Writing is important, sure, but so is living life. If you’re struggling to write, maybe it’s a sign you need a break.
// Switch to a different project
Maybe the problem isn’t writing. Maybe it’s the project you’re trying to work on.
That’s okay! At the time of writing this, I just finished a month-long hiatus on my new adult fantasy novel. I needed a break from it to understand why I was having trouble with it. Instead, I worked on my nonfiction productivity book and my blog posts.
If you think the problem is the project you’re working on, commit to setting it aside for one or two weeks. Work on something else in the meantime, even if it’s just brainstorming. Then, go back to the project when the allotted time has passed. You’ll probably find yourself ready to write again!
// Your Next Steps
The next time it feels like your project is dragging or that you just can’t get words onto paper, give yourself permission to step back. Review this list and decide what tactic you want to try first. You may only need one, or you may need them all. Everyone’s different, and what’s important is finding what works best for you and your process.
If you have any other questions, leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to help.