We’ve all been there. The words aren’t coming and your eyeballs are glazing over every time you look at the page.
At any point in the writing life this is frustrating, but during NaNo WriMo it can be excruciating.
If you’re stuck and not able to write, try some of these tips.
Force Yourself to Continue
Sometimes all you need is a little stubbornness to get you over a slump in energy or enthusiasm.
NOTE: While following these tips, do not at any point check your social feeds or e-mail.
- Say out loud: ‘Perfection is my enemy. I will write imperfect words and edit later.’ Then say it again and again until you’re convinced.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes (or 30 minutes) and freewrite. Don’t stop writing, even if all you’re recording is drivel. Something might pop up and get you going again.
- Set a word count (500 words, 1,000 words) and work towards that goal. Forget about the quality, focus on the quantity.
- Set up a reward system, (e.g. for every sentence written, you’re allowed one potato chip).
- Tie yourself to the chair. Literally. Go find rope or a scarf or a bed sheet.
- Stick your feet in a bucket of water. (This forces you to stay in your chair, but don’t do this near electrical outlets.)
Change Things Up a Bit
If you can’t force yourself to write (let’s face it, force is painful and not always helpful) then why not try a change?
- Change the font of your manuscript.
- Change the word processor you’re using. (Try Scrivener, OmmWriter, or even just TextPad.)
- Change the location of your scene, (e.g. if your scene takes place in a posh restaurant, move it to a car rally).
- Change the characters’ names, (e.g. instead of Max and Joanne, write about Fluffy and Mrs. Winklebottom).
- Use one of Creativity’s suggestions on how to add a new element into your scene.
- Move on to another scene that you feel enthusiastic about. (Remember: novels don’t have to be written in order.)
- Choose a writing prompt.
- Get up and walk around your office to give your brain a bit more blood flow.
- Move yourself to another room, or even outdoors if temperature allows, and write there.
- Write by hand. Use your favourite pen or different coloured markers.
- Use a typewriter to pound out your words.
- Dictate your scene into an audio recorder (e.g. on your computer or phone) and then type up the transcript.
Trick Yourself Into Writing
The above not working for you? Let’s get more creative!
WARNING: Use all tips below sparingly and not as excuses to avoid writing. Only use these once you’ve tried the above and got no results. After using a few of the below, go back to the tips above and try those again.
- Have a chat with a fellow writer. Find out how their work is progressing and then maybe bring up the problem you’re facing.
- Sketch a location for your scene.
- Act out a scene from your novel.
- Choose music for your scene.
- Think up your character’s favourite activity, then do it.
- Read what you’ve already written and build momentum for what comes next.
- Go back to whatever sparked your original idea and rekindle your excitement.
- Get out your favourite book and fall in love with writing again.
- Watch the special features of your favourite film, especially anything to do with the writing, scoping or directing process.
- Read your dictionary.
- Read your thesaurus.
- Play Balderdash/Fictionary.
- Find your favourite piece of your own work and read it.
Bore Yourself Into Writing
Still stuck? Now we get serious.
The purpose of these tips is to either provide the mind with the downtime needed to come up with new ideas, or to do something so mind numbing that you’ll voluntarily return to the page. As mentioned above, use these tips sparingly.
- Go for a walk.
- Take a shower. (I can personally vouch for the success rate of this tip.)
- Bounce a ball (preferably without breaking priceless household objects).
- Iron clothes.
- Sew buttons on shirts. (If buttons have not fallen off yet, then help them along with scissors.)
- Get out a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and start with the sky.
Do you have any more tips for the list? Add your own in the comments below.
November 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm
Love it! Sometimes 36 tips just isn’t enough. And the “bore yourself into writing” approach actually has been proven to work in terms of jostling out creative ideas from your subconscious.
November 14, 2012 at 8:06 pm
Glad you approve!
I’ve personally found I do have to walk away and let my mind concentrate on something else before the right idea finally strikes.
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