A Pep Talk for Writer’s Block

by syaffolee

Here’s an impromptu pep talk I wrote to one of my nanobuddies who was panicking about writer’s block.  If you’re not a microbiology major but you are participating in Nanowrimo, just substitute all the blathering about bacteria and Bunsen burners with exploding microwaves. (Everyone owns a microwave, right?)

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Hi there,

Okay, take a deep breath and slowly let it out.  Relax.  While Nanowrimo is known for its high velocity writing, getting stressed out about it may make the writer’s block worse.  Most of November is still ahead of us so there is plenty of time to catch up.  Just remember that this month is for getting those words out for an initial draft.  It isn’t about beautiful or interesting writing or even about plots making sense.  All of this can be fixed later.

If the ideas are eluding you, check out some of the forums under NaNo Tips & Strategies and pick up dares and random idea generators.  Introduce a new character into your story.  Write about events that may be happening elsewhere in your setting.  Have a character pick up a book and describe the story in the book.  Or use a prompt and somehow incorporate it into the story line.

There isn’t exactly one way to write, either.  If you’re getting stalled on one particular point in the story, then jump to a future scene in the story that may be more exciting.  Or go back and explain about the past of a character in a flashback that might reveal more about his or her motivations and personality.  Try out Write or Die or timed writing sprints.  If you have any write-ins near your location, drop on by and try that out.  Sometimes physically having other writers around who understand the obstacles can spur productivity.

Even my advisor and labmates gave me tips for getting those words down for the novel: include my dissertation or stories about mishaps that have happened in lab.  And while none of this would fit into my novel at all, they do have the right idea.  If you can think of nothing but lab and schoolwork–use that to your advantage.  Maybe your characters inadvertently find themselves in a lab or have encountered a talkative scientist.  Then write about bacteria and petri dishes and Bunsen burners going out of control and it will all count towards completing your novel.

Sure, there are days where you might feel that you simply can’t write anything let alone even touch a keyboard–and it is okay to take a day or two off to recharge your brain.  But if you are sitting at your computer or in front of your notebook ready to write but you find your mind blank, just look around you and find the first object that you see.  It might be a desk or a lamp or last night’s leftover pizza you forgot to put in the fridge.  Write that down and make a sentence.  Continue describing it.  Maybe this may go somewhere, maybe it won’t.  But keep writing one word after another and they will soon add up.  Prime the pump with something easy and simple and soon you’ll get going again.

Whatever works for you, just keep at it!  Good luck!