It happens to all of us, that agonizing moment when you sit down to write and…nothing happens. You try all the tricks you can think of to break the cycle, but the words just aren’t coming.
Instead of banging your head against the wall, try the 10 activities below. Some get your creative juices flowing, some engage your research skills, some are just plain fun, and all them allow you to keep moving forward with your manuscript without actually writing the text. And who knows, maybe you’ll be back at your keyboard before you reach #10.
1. Go back and edit what you’ve written. Stuck on a chapter? Go to the beginning of your book and start editing. By the time you reach the sticky chapter, you will have gotten reacquainted with your book and will be full of news ideas to improve.
2. Outline what’s left of the book. Even if you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of writer, outlining can help when you feel stuck. It’s fun to map out where your story is going, even if you end up taking a different path along the way.
3. Write your query letter. If the manuscript is giving you trouble, try your hand at the query letter. (And if you’re not querying, then try writing back cover or marketing copy.) For tips on writing a strong query, check out this post.
4. Write your synopsis. If you can write a synopsis, you can do anything! Distilling your work into a 2-3 page document can be torturous, but it will help you define the key points of your story and will come in handy when you are pitching your manuscript.
5. Research agents and/or publishers. Trade your Word doc for a spreadsheet and look up agents or publishers you’d like to work with that represent your genre. Put together names, companies, submission guidelines, and email addresses so that when your project is complete, you’ll be ready.
6. Spend an hour on Goodreads. If you’re going to play online, play online wisely. Head to Goodreads (or your favorite book recommendation site) and learn about recently published and upcoming books in your genre. Read the reviews from readers and check out the book covers and descriptions. You can learn a lot from what other folks do well!
7. Read! Take a field trip to your bookstore or library or grab a favorite off your bookshelf. Sometimes all it takes to recharge your writing battery is to read something that inspires you.
8. Brainstorm new ideas. Many of us writers have waaaay too many book ideas rolling around in our heads. Put a couple on paper to regain your creative confidence.
9. Critique a book for a writer friend…and ask them to do the same. Getting an outside opinion on your WIP or finished manuscript is key to making your writing better. And you should always reciprocate because, well, caring is sharing.
10. Watch an inspiring book-related video. When you don’t even want to look at another word, look at someone talking about words instead. Try one of the TED Talks below to jump start your inner author.
- How Books Can Open Your Mind (6 minutes)
- Why a Good Book Is a Secret Door (16 minutes)
- Where Does Creativity Hide? (22 minutes)
Still need more motivation? Check out more resources to get you out of the writer’s block rut.