writing a novel,  writing fiction

How to Fix Writer’s Block: Use Freewriting

Writer’s Block

You want to write a book. You have a great idea for a story, yet when you sit down at your computer, you stare blankly at the screen wondering why your story doesn’t come pouring out of your fingers. Perhaps, you’re suffering from writer’s block.

Writer’s block affects most writers at one time or another. Maybe it’s the intimidating white screen with the flashing cursor that seems to say, “What’s wrong with you? Write the story.” On the other hand, maybe it’s the feeling of inadequacy that no one will want to read what you’ve written. Or maybe you have “comparison syndrome,” unrealistically comparing yourself to other writers. Maybe it’s just a voice in the back of your mind that whispers, “You’ll never be a writer. You’ll never attain your writing dream. You might as well give up.”

Whatever it is, you need to free yourself from it. You need to allow yourself to write. You need to give yourself permission to write a horrible first draft. Celebrate your desire to write.

Feed your passion.

Don’t let anyone to tell you that you can’t one day see your name in print because you can.

Proper Preparation

Of course, you wouldn’t expect to sit at the piano without any instruction and play Beethoven. Learning to write fiction is like learning anything else—it takes time, dedication, practice, persistence, and patience. However, once you learn some writing techniques and practice what you’ve learned, you may still encounter writer’s block.

I find that if I’m properly prepared before I sit down at my computer, I don’t run into the “stare at the blank screen” problem very often.

Part of that preparation includes thinking about what I plan to write. Who is in the scene? What is the goal of the scene? What is the conflict? Where is it set? I can “write in my head” while I’m taking a shower, running errands, or doing dishes. “Listening” to my characters also helps me to sit down and just write. My first drafts tend to be very dialogue-heavy because I’m trying to hear what my characters are telling me. The more I listen, the easier it is for me to write a scene.

If I’m having problems “getting into” the story, it can stem from not taking the time to prepare to write.

Writing-in-a-journal

Freewriting

If you find that you sit down at your computer and freeze, a technique that helps me unblock my brain is to freewrite.

Freewriting is exactly what it sounds like: writing freely without any restrictions.

Allowing yourself to write whatever pops into your brain can unclog your creative juices. When you freewrite, you tie up and gag your internal editor, then set him in the corner. You write whatever you want for as long as you want.

Let the words fall out onto your keyboard, or paper, and don’t stop to analyze them. Don’t edit your writing or worry if it makes sense. Freewriting is about getting words onto the screen, or paper. You’ll have plenty of time to go back and edit if you decide to include any of your freewriting.

I think of freewriting as my mind vomiting words onto the paper. No rhyme, no reason. Only writing words.

For now, just write whatever comes to mind. Maybe it’s a conversation between your characters, description of the setting, or a more in-depth examination of a sub-plot. Use freewriting to explore one of your characters. Write about her childhood, her talents, or her fears. You may discover something you didn’t know about your character that will make your story even stronger.

Or, it may have absolutely nothing to do with your story. You may want to write about an experience you had as a child, the sunset you watched last night, or why you think one of the contestants on The Voice should win. You can even write nonsense just to get your mind working. The point is to write. Once you begin writing, you’ll find that you can easily return to your work-in-progress. .

How I Freewrite

For me, freewriting doesn’t work well on my laptop. I’m old school. I take out a spiral notebook and a pen and start writing. I like the feel of the pen in my hand and how my hand glides across the page as I write the words. I have notebooks filled with ramblings. Most of it never makes it into any of my stories, but it helps me to just write whatever comes out of my head.

Use-a-timer-to-freewrite

Exercise

For me, I’m a much better learner when I do things. I can read all sorts of books on writing, but it doesn’t click for me until I actually try it.

Why don’t you try a freewriting exercise? You’ll need:

  • timer
  • paper
  • pen

Set the timer for 10 minutes and start writing about anything and everything. Don’t stop. Keep writing until the alarm sounds.

Final Thoughts

I was super stuck on a scene with one of my characters. I just wasn’t sure how she should react. So I pulled out my notebook and started writing about her childhood. I discovered something about her that helped me understand her so much better and I was able to write my scene with more emotion and realism.

Freewriting is a technique I’ve used many times. I don’t have a lot of time to write, so I need to make every minute count. If I’m stuck, I can’t stay stuck for very long or I sacrifice my writing time for that day. I’ll use freewriting for 5 minutes and then I can jump right back into my work-in-progress.

Don’t let writer’s block stop you from writing the story that’s in your heart. Use this technique to help you!

Do you suffer from writer’s block? What have you done to unblock yourself? Have you ever tried freewriting? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

***Have you received my FREE course: Become an Idea Factory? You can click here to learn more about it. It’s a 7-day course delivered right to your inbox that helps you learn how to generate ideas. I know these techniques work because I use them! Find out more here.

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