How to Begin Again: Working Through Writer’s Block

Every writer experiences this moment: you fire up your laptop, pull up a blank word document, finger tips hovering expectantly over the keys, and out comes… nothing. Where your thoughts should be dancing across the screen in a composed ballet of letters, Headshot Camerainstead they remain desolate and barren. It’s as if your muse has suddenly decided to encase your literary feet in a brick wall, keeping you from moving forward. You demand that it unleash you this instant and it replies only by sticking out its tongue in defiance. Welcome to writer’s block.

It may seem to strike without any real cause, as if the universe has irrevocably decided to take away your skills, but writer’s block stems from discernible places. Perhaps you’ve been writing about the same things lately and can’t find a new way to make that love story pop off the page. Maybe you haven’t been thinking about your ideas as much as you used to. And just maybe, you’ve found yourself bored with the idea of sitting at a desk tapping away about things you self-deprecatingly think no one will ever give a second thought. Whatever the case may be, you’ve entered the winter of your writing experience: every which way you look greets you with only empty spaces and monotone landscapes. But just like our living calendar, winter must inevitably leave to allow the coming of spring, inviting new exciting prospects and vivacious beginnings. Here are some tips to spur on your creative season:

  1. Every writer reads.

Here’s something that’s probably obvious: anyone who knows how to write also knows how to read. It’s through reading literature that writers typically realize their passion, and therefore, only makes sense that books would be the place to turn to when you’re in dire need of reinvigorating. It may seem counterproductive at first, but this technique has its advantages. Reading not only helps you remember what it was about literature that made you so excited, but also helps you to remember what a book looks like. Through exploring the pages of a book from the reader side rather than the writer side, you relearn what makes a plot engaging, what makes characters unique yet relatable, and how to keep the readers on their toes. Rereading your old favorites is a good start, but picking up new releases allows you the experience of a new adventure, and the possibility of discovering new writing tricks you’ve never encountered before.

  1. Introduce a ‘plot bunny.’

What exactly is a plot bunny? Well unlike a real bunny, the only thing this energetic little thing will multiply, is your ideas. A plot bunny is a plot device that you plop into the current scene you’re working on with hopes that it will incite some type of revelation. It can be something like, “have one of your characters run into their old high school bully,” or something as simple as working in a word or phrase. They can be serious or absolutely ridiculous, but the goal is to encourage a new route. When writing, you can often get bogged down by the initial places you wanted to take your characters, and be against allowing them to go in any other direction. Writers reach a narrow alley that their character refuses to go down, and as hard as the author pushes them, the character’s actions reflect all the force and reluctance in the prose. Instead, lead your character to a four-way intersection brimming with choices and allow them to show you who they are rather than you showing them. Even if what you write with your plot bunny can’t fit into your larger story, you’ll learn something new about your characters that can help you to reshape your plot down the line.

  1. Pretend there is no book but the world.

The writer’s natural habitat has always been indoors, shut away in a room, possibly with a furry companion, drinking their preferred hot beverage, and hunching over a bright computer screen for hours upon hours. And sure, we’ve all been there, but before we were writers endeavoring to churn out genius at all costs of sanity and social life, we were humans. And we are still humans, who like anyone else, are hungry for a new story, a new experience. One of the best ways to get that, besides reading a book, is to actually go out and experience it for yourself. The saying “write what you know” is tried and true, so if you don’t plan on only writing books about authors tirelessly working on manuscripts in the dead of night, I’d suggest going out and living. It can be as big as travelling overseas, hitting up beaches and forests, conversing with foreigners and diving off of cliffs, or as small as taking a walk along the lake, going out with friends to the city, or flying solo as you explore a new part of town. The world is full of new places, new people, new depths of emotion and imagination that you, and nobody else, have ever encountered. In those adventures, you find the things that will give you a story no one but yourself can tell. Just be sure to bring a notebook and pen.

These are just a few things I do when I find myself frozen before my writing projects. With these, and determination, I’ve found a way to reignite my passion and begin again. I hope you’ll find something in these techniques that helps your creativity blossom.

-Camera Martin

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