After spending over three decades dreaming about the novels I would write during my retirement years, I was totally unprepared for the tyranny of the blank page. Thankfully, that first bout of writer’s block didn’t last too long. Inspiration came a month later at a creative writing workshop.
Several other bouts followed, some longer than others. Workshops and seminars definitely helped and so did the following strategies:
1. Change it up. Use pen and paper instead of a computer. If you’ve always written in the morning, switch to evening writing. Find a new writing café or create a new workplace in your home.
2. Improve your writing circumstances. Change the lighting, keep a coffee or tea pot nearby, declutter your desk, or hang up an inspirational poster.
3. Write something that comes easily–a letter, a recipe, a poem–and then return to your original project.
4. Move your body. Dance, run, practice yoga or Tai Chi, revisit a sport or fitness activity. Get your body into flow and your mind will follow.
5. Take up a new creative pursuit: painting, scrapbooking, decoupage, woodworking, quilting, weaving…If you’re stuck, buy an adult coloring book stock up on colored pencils, and start coloring.
6. Journal or free-write for 15 to 20 minutes each morning. You can write about random subjects or personal issues. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation.
7. Sign up for a Continuing Education course that is out of your comfort zone. You could learn a new language, practice karate, or take a Japanese cooking class.
8. Make a list of all possible directions in which your manuscript could go. Don’t exclude any ideas, even silly or unworkable ones. Try out one or more of these directions until something clicks.
9. Set a reasonable deadline and offer yourself a substantial reward for finishing the manuscript. Share with a friend who will keep you accountable.
10. Participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). During the month of November, writers worldwide commit to writing 50K words in one month. I participated for the first time in 2016 and wrote 51K of a cozy mystery, A Different Kind of Reunion (released by the The Wild Rose Press in April 2018). In 2017, I wrote 55K of a stand-alone novel. I connected with a local group and met regularly throughout the month. It was a great experience!
Any other tips to share?