We’ve all been there. I’ve never really experienced writer’s block, but procrastination isn’t far away for me on some of my writing days. At times, it’s difficult to stay focused on my story because my mind wanders to other things or I’m distracted because it’s beautiful outside. Then I seem to be preoccupied on what I’m NOT doing instead of what I want to do.
I’ve learned a few tricks that have helped me to stay centered on my writing projects. Getting outside for a brisk walk or taking the time for a good aerobic workout helps me to refocus. Sometimes listening to my favorite music (even turning up the volume and signing) or drinking a tasty beverage (iced tea, fruit smoothie) helps too.
Here are five helpful tips to remember if you’re suffering from writer’s block or that stubborn procrastination bug:
1. Find a comfortable writing space & set a writing schedule that best suits your needs.
You’re not going to feel comfortable writing if you don’t like where your workspace is located. Maybe it’s time to change it up? If you’ve been writing in an extra room in your house, maybe change your space to the kitchen table or even at a local coffee shop. Make sure your writing schedule is attainable. Don’t put time aside late at night and you know that you’re too tired and stressed to do any writing. Make adjustments that fit your lifestyle and writing needs.
2. Set writing deadlines and stick to them.
It’s important to set deadlines for yourself. Be sure to set deadlines that are realistic. Not finish your novel in four weeks. A great way to set short term goals is to set a number of pages or words you would like to accomplish every day, like 3 – 5 typed pages or 2,000 words. If you don’t happen to meet your goal on a particular day – remember it’s okay. Reward yourself for writing. Writing is supposed to be fun!
3. Work on more than one project at a time.
Writing on more than one book may seem overwhelming, but it’s actually a good way to focus your attention on something else if you’re having a block with one book. For example, if you’ve been bitten with the procrastination bug, then work on some research for another project. It helps to inspire you and to look at your other projects from a different perspective.
4. Take time off and reward yourself after a project.
This is a must! Take some time for yourself and celebrate your finished project. A good way to benefit from this reward is to break it up in sections. For example, reward yourself when you’ve finished your first draft, completed all of your edits, designed your book cover, and final draft. It will help to keep you motivated and fresh with ideas.
5. Try some fun writing exercises.
This is actually something new for me, but I find it very effective. Again, it helps to refocus your mind on something else momentarily. Try writing one of your chapters from a different character’s point of view, a different narrative (first person or present tense), or write an evaluation of one of your characters for a pretend job interview. One of my favorite writing exercises is to make a list of all the descriptive words I like to use and then write out 20 alternative words for each one.
The bottom line… don’t despair if you’re feeling a little cranky because of writer’s block or procrastination. It happens to all of us at one time or another. Writing is a demanding and difficult job, but well worth it. Take a breath… give yourself a break… and refocus.