Writer’s block. The dark pit of every writer’s soul. It’s a dingy thing to have when you are trying to meet a deadline and you have just hit that wall. When you feel that you aren’t creative enough or when you feel it’s just not going to get you anywhere so you think ‘what’s the point?’. Every writer gets it.
If writer’s block hits you, there are numerous ways you can get out of that funk. So read on for some of my most effective ways to do so!
This is a big one. Everyone is surrounded by things they see as the ‘easier path’ for having a nice, relaxing day. When you’re a writer, completing that level of Candy Crush that you’ve been stuck on all week isn’t going to get you published. If you want to be a success, you need to train your mind to simply eradicate any platforms that will keep you from finishing that script. The best scenario is to put yourself in the quietest area of your home. With nothing to torment you, you can get cracking on your second act!
A ritual that can also be helpful if you are up to it? Pulling a late night writing session. This is not me telling you to mess up your body clock or go down some form of an unhealthy route, but it does work. If you carry on your writing from, say, ten or eleven at night, and everyone you may be tempted to talk to being fast asleep may spearhead your desire to get writing.
Now, this tip is for only the most trusted of writers. This is not essentially a ‘get out of jail free card’. A lot of writers, when they hit the wall of the writer’s block, find that it’s because they feel uninspired. This is usually the cue for some writers to say ‘oh, I wait for the inspiration to find me, I find it comes naturally’. Excuse my profanity, but that’s FLIPPING RUBBISH! Yes, it’s a gift when you are presented with an idea or opportunity to write spontaneously, but a lot of the time, it’s left up to you.
This is where you need to be trusted, not by anyone else, but yourself. If you want to find inspiration, go and look for it, and sometimes that can come from watching TV or reading a book. BUT! This is only effective if it’s truly constructive. If you are writing an espionage-style screenplay? Watch a Bond film, watch a Bourne film, research the writers, find out what their process is.
Do you want to write like Aaron Sorkin? Watch his stuff, pick up on his connotations for you to denote, watch his Masterclasses online. It’s true, this stuff can help, but just don’t see it as an
excuse to yourself to binge-watch The Crown or Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix.
Chat it out with someone
A lot of the time when you’re a writer, you might find that you want to just keep your ideas to yourself. That’s fine, but sometimes it can be good to talk to a potential audience member about it if you are feeling the idea becoming deflated. If you have an idea for a script, or you are half way through it and just don’t think it’s any good, chat to someone about it. However, this doesn’t mean you go to your nan, who may have no idea what you’re talking about and will just nod along and agree because she wants to support you. No, this is where those brutally honest people in your life come in handy.
Whether that is your partner, your partner, your uncle who lives down the road, or maybe even your dear old nan. Whoever it is, speak to them about it. Meet up with them for a coffee. Invite them round for food. Do whatever, but when they’re around and you’re talking, mention that your idea has hit a snag and you just want to run it past them to see what they think. Those brutal people in your life won’t need to be a fan of the genre to know if you’re on to something or are throwing spaghetti at the wall. Just because they’re not writers or TV execs doesn’t mean they haven’t got a clue about if an idea is good or not.
I know, I know, it sounds really cliché, but play the game. Setting yourself realistic milestones for when writing is extremely effective. Your idea needs to be given time and effort if you want to succeed and not get bored of it easily, leading to the block of the writers. If you really want to try and hash out a sixty-minute play in a day, go for it, but odds are going to say it will be a massive waste of time for a lot of people reading it.
If you are dreading getting act two over and done with, aim to do about twenty pages a night, better yet, twenty pages a week. That gives you time to plan it out in your head or on paper so that when it comes to writing it you are hitting the ground running. See, it really is the old saying of ‘slow and steady wins the race’. Or ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’. Both sound good so take whichever you like away from this article with you.
This is one of the personal favourites of people I know. Free-writing is a great way to get those creative juices flowing when you’re in a bit of a slump at your writing desk. Got something on your mind? A synopsis of an idea? A monologue that’s been brewing away all day long? Free it! Unleash it! Get your fingers typing and give your brain a chance to do some freestyling. By the end of it you may think ‘huh, that was fun, hey where’s that play I was writing?’.
Of course, you may struggle to even get yourself to your computer to free-write, everyone has different levels of writer’s block, but give it a chance, it’s very useful, especially when you have other ideas in a queue in your head. Also, you may find that free-writing will help to crack the code to how you carry on with the script you have been struggling with – always worth a shot!
It’s easier said than done at the end of the day, but script writing is for the creative sort, so show you are creative. When you are on page fifty of your planned two-hundred-page stage play, it can be a bit of an uphill struggle. Your main character isn’t really interesting. Your villain doesn’t seem to really have a motivation. The prospect of going back to rewrite four of your scenes seems like a hellish thought. Honestly, put that effort in. Switch off your phone, stop playing that music, and get to typing. Every writer pursues writing with the subconscious thought that they are good
at it. Prove it to yourself. That one man show won’t write itself!
Since graduating from university with a degree in Drama and Creative Writing, Chris has fully invested in writing; actively producing articles, reviews, stories and scripts. He loves movies, television, discussions, informing, theorising, art, and most of all: writing.