Picture it: you’re sitting down to your computer, thrilled about a new book idea that you’ve been planning for ages and have finally allowed yourself to write. You open a new Word document and set your hands on the keyboard. And . . . you freeze.
Every writer – whether you write essays, books, short stories or poems – has faced the threat of a blank page and a blinking cursor. You have an amazing idea (or you’re being forced to write a school essay) and you’re ready to write it, but something is holding you back. There’s just a bit of doubt that creeps into your head.
There’s a world of stories on that empty page, and you don’t know how to start it. I feel this every time I start a new novel, or a new blogpost, or an essay for school. There’s just something intimidating about a blank page and the threat of a bad grade or a terrible book.
I can’t tell you any for sure ways to get past this “immediate writer’s block,” but I can give you a list of the different things I do to try and help me out. Let’s get started, shall we?
Refresh My Memory
When writing an essay, this means that I reread (at least some of) the story, and refresh my memory on the contents of the story and what stood out to me. When writing a novel, this for me means rereading what I’ve plotted and going over everything I wrote down about my book idea.
This helps me because I now know what I am wanting to write, and it’s fresh in my mind. It’s much easier to write if you actually know what you’re going to type, isn’t it?
Write Something Else
When I have no idea what I’m going to write in my latest novel, I move on to an older one that I’m editing. Getting my mind off the main project can actually help me focus more on the planned target.
I’ve found that this works because it’s much less stressful to work on something that you already know how it’s going to turn out. If I’m on the second or third draft of a book and choose to write draft #1 of another but I can’t figure out how to start it, I go to something familiar and calm myself down before going back to my newbie.
Walk Away Completely
Obviously, you come back to it. But, leaving it for twenty or twenty-five minutes and doing something that’s unrelated to writing helps my brain process and rework everything that I might want to write. It, too, helps relieve heaps of stress – especially if I’m writing an essay. Though I love writing novels, essays are even more stressful for me, and walking away from it to return in a few minutes helps me feel more comfortable.
Put On a Little Music
This helps my brain process things, too. I have music playlists for every book that I’m working on, and I make them before I even start writing. This way, I can remember what I’m focusing on/the main points. You don’t even have to put on the music, either. Sometimes, when I don’t want to listen to music but I still need a little push to help me figure out what to write, I’ll read through the titles of the songs.
You might very well be asking, “How does this help?” Well, when I read through the titles of the songs I get a good idea of what kind of book I’m writing. For instance, the playlist for “The Ending” (the book I am currently editing) is filled mostly with love songs/“finding the new you” songs, while the playlist for “The Ryder Trilogy: Forsaken” (the book I am currently writing draft #1 of) is mostly Skillet and Switchfoot, as well as a bunch of “I’m not going to die”/ “I will survive this” music. When I read the titles, I remind myself what I’m focusing on. Is the book a romance novel? An action novel? A mystery novel? I can remind myself of this by simply rereading the titles of the songs I chose to listen to!
Get Advice from a Writing Buddy
I have a couple of writing buddies (heya guys!) that I turn to whenever I can’t figure out what I should write next, or even first. I’ll shoot them a message and say, “This is what it’s supposed to be about, how do you think I should start it?” Though writing buddies can’t give you the answer for how you can start it, it can be nice to have a second brain to brainstorm with.
Now, some of these might seem silly, or even unnecessary. But, trust me on this, they’re helpful. It’s great to have second opinions, breaks, and refresh my memory on what I’m planning to write. There’s no reason to stare at that blank page and blinking cursor – I believe in you! So, next time you’re stuck, try one of these methods, and see if maybe, just maybe, you can get down that great idea that’s been sitting in your head (or the essay you’re being forced to write!)
Do you have any different ways you get passed that blank page and blinking cursor? If so, don’t be afraid to share in the comments below! I’d love to hear your ideas!