We’ve all faced them – those blank pages we know we have to fill but our minds aren’t cooperating. The brilliant ideas that woke us from our dreams, that interrupted while we were driving or watching TV have vanished. Even if we scribbled them down somewhere, they don’t seem as brilliant as they did in the moment. They don’t flow. They stutter and stall, finally succumbing to a meek and pitiful death in the outermost corners of our minds.
Our muses aren’t just hiding, they’ve packed up and moved out, leaving a glaring void where our story ideas – and the glorious words that brought them to life – used to be.
Fear not. This phenomenon, usually called writer’s block, has been examined, analyzed and discussed for years. There’s help, and today we’re taking a look at a few ways to coax your must from hiding. Even if your muse is being robustly active right now, a few tips on nourishing it and helping it to thrive can’t hurt.
Maria Popova from Brain Pickings examines the thought processes behind writing productivity, including the practices of some renowned authors in this post. Check out the cool images and graphics.
My favorite quote comes via Ernest Hemingway to George Plimpton in a rare interview in 1989:
“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.”
The Write Life’s Jo Malby offers “5 Ways to Face the Blank Page.”
Favorite tip: Remember to enjoy yourself
When we feel barricaded in by deadlines or pressured by outside forces, it’s easy to forget the beauty, joy and fun of writing.
Literary agent Chuck Sambuchino, writing for Writers’ Digest, shared “7 Ways to Overcome Writers’ Block” in May of 2013:
Favorite tip: Move your body.
Dance, practice yoga or Tai Chi. This may sound funny, but when you get your body into flow, your mind follows. Meditate and take long, deep breaths. A relaxed mind is more open. An open mind is more imaginative. You can focus longer when you are in a peaceful state. Sometimes I step away from writing, do some yoga poses and breathing, then return to writing in a more creative state.
Like Hemingway, do you need a specific time of day to write, or place, or routine? Do you stare at a blank screen trying to write at home, while words spill effortlessly if you’re at a local coffee shop or library?
What keeps your muse primed? If you’d like to share, please comment below. We’d love to read them.
After spending her life working with words in various roles in both government and the private sector, including a 10-year stint as a freelance line editor, lifelong grammar fanatic Leah Price is excited about putting her skills and knowledge to work as author liaison for Edward Allen Publishing. She also writes commercial fiction under a pseudonym and knows how tough it is to get all the pieces in the story puzzle to fit, but she loves the journey.