On Episode 36 of the Writer’s Way, I share my best tips on how to overcome writer’s block. I asked a few other successfully published authors to chime in as well, and I’m sure glad I did!
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RESOURCES We Talk About!
Link to the FREE Sucky or Stupendous Course
Link to the Profitable Picture Books: 30 Day Action Plan
Find Kelly Grettler on her website at kellygrettler.com.
Find David Blaze and his books at davidblazebooks.com.
Find Mina Anguelova’s on Facebook.
Having trouble actually getting that book in your brain out? Having trouble writing it? You sit down and nothing happens? If you’re nodding your head right now, this episode of the Writers Way is for YOU!
Welcome to the Writer’s Way podcast where we celebrate writers who have completed their books and inspire writers who haven’t. Join Laurie and her guests as they talk about writing, books and life, in between chapters.
The Problem of Writer’s Block
Hey writers, it’s summertime here in Canada, which for me means that the kids are home and always under foot or on me for some reason. What does that mean for you? I’m wondering, I’m wondering if your intentions are to finally write your book. Maybe you’re sitting on your lounge chair on the dock, at your cottage with your computer or your iPad in your lap. Thinking now is my time. Personally, I have a lofty goal, like I always do, writing a few books this summer, but like I said about the kids, they’re always around and it’s finally nice weather, so I’m honestly not sure it’s going to happen. I’ll be happy if I get one written, but I’m one of those writers who I go to a concert, I go really anywhere and stories start writing in my head. They have to go into the parking lot because I just don’t have capacity to write all the stories, that are in my head.
Are you the same?
I wonder if you’re the same. I’m curious if you experience what I often do when I finally do get the chance to sit down and write kid free and in the quiet, here’s what happens to me. Nothing, nothing happens. It’s a huge case of writer’s block. So that’s why I wanted to do today’s episode and see if I can maybe give you a few strategies that I’ve learned along the way that have helped me. So if you’re like me, you sit down in your quiet space, you know, staring at your computer or staring at the wall but then your thoughts start to wander and they’re not wandering to your book at all. You and inevitably get distracted by something. Facebook, emails, Instagram, or maybe you know, that dirty spot on your wall that you’re staring at. And then you start beating yourself up because this was your only hour all week to actually write. Ah! Some people call it writer’s block, some people call it life.
Laurie Tip #1: It’s ok to stare at the wall!
I’m going to share my top two tips with you today and also asked some writer friends to chime in with their best ideas on how to actually write their books. So the first thing that I’m going to share that’s from me is it’s okay to stare at the wall. When I sit down to write, at least half of my time is wall staring. And then usually the words flow out. Usually they do anyway when I’m lucky, right? I should copyright it is to be strict about the potential distractions because really your butt has to be in the chair. Your wifi really has to be off. And there should be a sign on your door for the children that says do not disturb unless you’re on fire. Something similar. And then you accept that it’s okay to stare at the wall or the screen or whatever for a good portion of the time that you’re writing.
It’s part of your process. And you don’t have to fight it. And eventually, you know, after half an hour, 45 minutes of just staring, the creative thoughts will start to come and the words will flow out. So here’s a suggestion from my friend Kelly Grettler who is another children’s author and she’s going to share with us what she’s learned about morning pages.
Kelly Grettler: Morning Pages
Hi Laurie, this is Kelly. The best way that I can give advice for curing writer’s block is to do what is called morning pages. And it comes from the idea comes from Julia Cameron’s book, the artist’s way. And the idea behind morning pages is that every morning you get up and before you really fully, you know, become coherent, you sit down and you free write for probably about 10 to 15 minutes or about two and a half to three pages. And you just write, you let it flow from the pen.
You have random, whatever random thoughts come across your head. You don’t form the thoughts, you just, you know, you just basically are purging the weird stuff out of your head and you just do it every day. And I guarantee it works. If you give it a a few days, maybe a week, all of a sudden you’ll, you’ll start to see a lot of creative stuff happening. The writer’s block will be gone. It works like magic. And what’s bizarre is sometimes I fall out of the habit of doing it. Like I haven’t done it in probably about a week, but yeah, I really recommend it.
I love that idea. Kelly. Thank you for sharing it. It did originate from Julia Cameron and what I feel like it’s really about is just making a writing habit but writing without putting boundaries on yourself. So don’t sit down to write your book, just sit down to write and see what comes out. But do it daily. Thanks Kelly. I appreciate you sharing. Now Tim has a really neat idea about getting your imagination going. Tim writes easy chapter books for reluctant readers and you might want to look up his book The Fox Ate My Homework after you hear what a creative guy he is.
Tim aka David Blaze: What if?
Hi Laurie this is Tim Aka David Blaze. I was thinking about it. And Yeah, writer’s block is a tough thing to deal with. Now as far as keeping your butt in the chair, it’s really hard for most of us I think, unless we’re excited about what we’re writing. And it’s hard to get excited about it if we don’t know what they’re right in the first place. Right? Now normally with writer’s block, I haven’t experienced it for a few years, but the way they got around it was actually right before I started writing My Fox Ate My Homework. I had drafted out 12 different story ideas because I couldn’t think of what to write. And the story ideas were just one sentence each and every idea I have starts with the question, what if, what if this happens? Then what happens next? Like let’s say on my desk or right now there’s a napkin.
What if that Napkin could talk? If that Napkin could talk, what would it say? If this said that, why would it say it? And then what would happen after it said that? So literally it’s just question after question, but it always starts with the question, what if? What if this happens? Then what happens next? And that’s what I do with every single story I write now. And that’s something it raises for me anyways. That raises a bit of excitement and it raises questions of what can happen next. Because when you don’t know what you’re going to write, you don’t want to write it and that’s the- you don[‘t want to put your butt in the chair and stay there. Like I don’t know what to do. I just want to watch TV and want to eat potato chips. I won’t lie. This still happened to me sometimes. But honestly that’s what I thought of when you posed the question. What if, that’s the main thing. I hope that helps you out somewhat. Thanks.
Mina Anguelova: Run Multiple Projects
Laurie: Thank you Tim. I love that idea. Look around you and wonder what could happen next? Now Tim writes under the super cool pen named David Blaze for anyone who wants to look up his books. Okay. So another writer friend of mine, Mina chimed in on this one as well. And she says, writer’s block usually comes from being stressed and her advice is to just let it come out without worrying too much. So here’s Mina.
If I am having a creative block, this is probably because I am stressed up about having the project done. When I am calm and just let the creative process happen without rushing, it, just working on it everyday problems will emerge that will solve them as required without worrying too much. Sometimes when the ideas or solutions don’t seem to come, then maybe it’s time to do research, see art, read books, or even rest until the idea emerges. Sometimes it may take months for the right idea to come. It’s why I run multiple projects. When one gets stuck I let it rest and work on another. Sooner or later solutions end up coming.
Laurie Tip #2: Let other creative tasks inspire.
Thank you for sharing that. Creative people often overthink about projects and can lose that magic. So I really appreciate this advice. Now my second suggestion is similar to Mina’s, but it’s not actually mine. It’s just something that I read once and it really struck a chord and stuck with me. And now I tell everybody about it. So Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic and City of Girls. On a side note, I just saw this at Costco and who has read this? I love her writing and I’m wondering if I should move this book up to the top of the stack on my bedside table. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read it and you think I should move the newest City of Girls up to the top. Okay.
So anyway, in that middle book, Big Magic, she talks about a lot of ideas and inspirations for her creative work. And her suggestion for writer’s block is to do something creative that you don’t need your whole brain for like painting, gardening, even cooking or baking is really a creative process that you can do, you know, with only half paying attention. So her suggestion is to do that and your thoughts will naturally wander to your writing and hopefully inspiration will strike. So it’s important not to make this creative task like too mind consuming or all encompassing because then it just takes over and the writing doesn’t happen.
Laurie Bonus Tip #3: Be inspired by your kids.
I have one more idea specific to children’s authors. I think I suggested it to Nathan last week if you caught that one. He’s a brand new writer, longtime storyteller and he’s my summer time case study. I’m helping him along the journey of self publishing and he’ll be a regular guest until his book is published. Fingers crossed, anyway. Subscribe if you don’t want to miss any of his episodes.
He’s a really fun guy to listen to and I feel like a lot of people will really resonate with his story because they’ll see themselves in him and what he struggles with. So what I told Nathan last week was to sit with a notebook near to where your kids are playing because they come up with really neat ideas and I think you’ll find a lot of inspiration this way and similar to what Tim shared. If you can get really excited about an idea, it will be so much easier to sit down and actually write. If you have a great idea for beating writer’s block and want to help, please share it in the comments section so other people can. The more ideas, the better. Since we all rate and create and live really in different ways. Thank you so much for listening today, writers. Next week I want to talk to you about how you can vet your book idea before you publish it. Before you even pay for illustrations.
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You’ve been listening to the Writer’s Way podcast. For show notes, links to guests’ information, and to learn more about the way, check out lauriewrighter.com. Until next week, enjoy this chapter of your life.
Hey Writers, thanks for listening today. I’m curious, how many of you have ever battled with writer’s block and have you come out of it or are you still battling? Are you still staring at your wall? Let me know how you deal with it in the comments section below. Then go ahead and subscribe so you won’t miss the next Writer’s Way episode that is all about figuring out if your idea is any good or not.