SYWTBAW: When words fail

My eyes droop. My head feels swollen and numb, like I've been stung by a giant bee. I've been staring at my WIP and realize I've spent the past week stuck on the same sentence, unable to push forward.

Writer's block is the bane of all professional and wannabe professional (i.e. paid) writers. You've probably had those days where you're staring at a blank screen, willing the words to magically appear even though you feel more like you're ready to regurgitate word salad all over your monitor.

The Block might come in a different form: you come to a stage in your writing where you just don't know what else to say. Your characters stare blankly back at you, stuck in plot limbo, waiting, picking their noses, or otherwise trudging through the monotony of a regular day in their world. Your writing becomes a laundry list of things they did that day.

Or perhaps you've been obsessing over one particular scene; something's not right; something sounds off; you don't like this scene, but it needs to be there and AUUUUUGHHHHH!!!!

Pretty much all of these scenarios end with that last drawn-out cry of frustration.

So here's the cure:

Stop writing. Just for a while. Take a break. A hiatus. If you've been pounding the keyboard for weeks with no real forward momentum, it's time to find your muse, relax, recharge, and start fresh when you're ready to tackle the challenge.

Things to do to inspire you:

1. Read something fun. If you're already doing this, and have ten bookmarks in ten different books, you might want to shift your focus and find something you WANT to read. Try to read it purely for enjoyment--don't go looking for things you're not doing, or find ways to make what you're writing more like the book. Just lose yourself in the text.

2. Watch a movie you've always wanted to see. Even if no one else will watch it with you, grab the DVD or get those movie tickets and buy yourself a nice big tub of popcorn and indulge yourself. TV is also an excellent way to rest your brain and passively receive information and entertainment. And video games count!

3. Go for a walk/run/jog/bike ride/public transit adventure/etc. I find that forward motion always gets my creative juices going, which is why I end up writing on the bus so frequently.

4. Go somewhere you haven't been before or want to revisit and look for new things about these places. Look around, and especially look up: new perspectives get your brain into gear. Go into that store you pass all the time but never enter. Sit on that bench you always pass on the way home.

There are innumerable ways to recharge, but the important thing about getting around writer's block is to 1) assess the situation and come back to it when you're up to the challenge; and 2) More important, CONFRONT THE BLOCK AND PUSH THROUGH WHEN YOU HAVE THE STRENGTH.

Give yourself time to rest, a vacation from your WIP, and sometimes the Block will disappear on its own.

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