Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tip O'Day #434 - A Stumbling Block

Guest blogger Eve Paludan on Ten Ways to Bust Writer's Block...by Writing!

Writer's block is a stumbling block to productivity. Once in a while, it hits almost all writers, even the ones who are passionate about the craft. Since writers are introspective, emotional creatures, external forces, such as financial worries, illness, conflict with another person, or lack of sleep can stall the best writers and cause their motivation to go AWOL. Here are some tried-and-true methods that I use to break through a serious halt in my productivity.

1. Ensure that you always have more than one project in progress. If you get tired of working on one project, switch to another one for a day or so until you find yourself longing for the project that got stalled. Then go back to it with a fresh eye and a renewed passion.

2. If you are itchy, cold, hungry or annoyed, take your laptop to someplace where you don't usually write. Make yourself comfortable and write in that new place, whether it's McDonalds or the kitchen table, until you are tired of it and want to get back to your usual writing location. Sit in a different chair, take your laptop to the couch, go hide under a shady tree, or sit in a recliner chair. Move your office for a little while and write something. Then, when you get antsy again, return to the usual place where you write.

3. If you are stalled in a fiction project, then write a little nonfiction to get your hands moving on the keyboard again. Some examples are guest blogs, twitter tweets about your books or a friend's books, book announcements on Facebook, or book review for someone else's book on Amazon. The idea is to go through the motions of word creation, even if you are in a different head space about your novel manuscript.

4. If a particular scene of your work-in-progress is the cause of halting and scratching your head because you don't yet know how to handle the scene, write a note to yourself in the manuscript, such as insert love scene here and then go onto the next scene where you DO know what you want to write. You can always return to write the hard parts later. Keep your writing productivity in motion!

5. If you usually write without music, put on some music, especially something instrumental, and let it inspire you. I do not suggest turning on the television as it seems to engage all of the senses, instead of just the ears. I think TV is too distracting, but that's just me.

6. If you know where the keys are without looking, type for a few minutes with the lights off or with your eyes closed. Just channel the words and let your automatic writing take over. Wild things can happen on your pages! Peek every so often to make sure that your fingers are on the right keys.

7. If you usually type and hit writer's block, try using pen and paper for an hour or so. My favorite place to write longhand is at the beach or on my front steps. Or if you usually write longhand, try using your computer. The idea is to write something using a different physical process.

8. If you hit a plot wall, then work on writing quick character sketches of the hero's or heroine's physical, emotional and intellectual traits.

9. Write your Amazon catalog description of your book or what you would put on the back of a print book. Without giving away whodunnit or howdunnit, write five to seven sentences that describe the characters, main conflict, and obstacles that your hero or heroine must overcome. Jazz it up with some excerpts of book reviews from readers.

10. Read your characters' dialogue out loud, without any dialogue tags, and expand their conversation by typing it while you talk. Keep it going as long as you can until the scene plot points are resolved or lead into more questions or another chapter.

Oh, and about number 10 – I once had my front door open and was reading dialogue aloud, not realizing my landlord was kneeling in the flower bed out front, listening. I got up to go check on my laundry and he was startled when I found him right outside my front door. Apparently, my characters' dialogue brought him to his knees.

Good luck with these writer's block busting tips. I hope they work for you, too. Feel free to add some of your own tips in the comments below.

You can check out Eve’s novels and stories here and her newest novel is Finding Jessie: A Mystery Romance. You can also connect with Eve on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. Great tips, Eve! I especially like #4 and employ it often when drafting. Sometimes Ijump ahead a few scenes and inevitably I figure out what bridge scenes need to be written to link everything up. :)

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