Happy-New-Year-2016-Images-4It’s New Year’s Eve! Time for taking stock of what’s behind you and looking ahead to what you want to accomplish in the coming year. There’s something special that happens when that clock rolls over to midnight and we break the seal on all the potential energy of the year to come. It’s that special magic that makes people resolve to make changes or to shoot for their dreams!

I love New Year’s resolutions. Not because they’re so often kept, or even very effective in the long run, but because of the hope and imagination that they represent when they’re made. Sure we all regularly screw up, fall off the wagon, or backslide on our best intentions. It’s part of being human. But the act of imagining our lives could be different than we are now? That’s powerful magic.

So out with the old and in with the new! In this new year, what are you resolved to do? How are you going to make 2016 your best writing year yet?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m starting a “Write Every Damn Day” challenge for 2016. I’ll be spending 15 minutes a day with a writing prompt, and working on consistency and “intentionality” in my writing practice. I’d love it if you joined me. You don’t have to work on the same prompts as I do, just sit down and write. Butt-in-chair. It’s proven to improve your writing craft!

Maybe writing prompts aren’t what you need this year, though. In that case, I challenge you to figure out what it is that your writing practice needs and then scrape together the motivation and go do it! You’re the only one who stands in the way of your dreams of writing a novel. You have the magic in you to make it happen.

Don’t let the hugeness of your dreams overwhelm you and keep you from taking the first steps to achieving them. Figure out what those first steps, and then the next steps, and then the next steps are, and pretty soon, you’ll be standing at the peak of Dream Mountain. You can be the writer you want to be. It just takes determination and a little humility.

Make 2016 your year. Finish writing that book. Or get started! Write big! Dream big!

writer's block; writing; how do you write?; Neil Gaiman

Writer’s block. The old foe of creative minds everywhere. Standing in the way of completed manuscripts since… well since people began writing, probably!

If you’ve ever felt writer’s block, you know it’s a horrible experience. There you are, chugging along on your manuscript when suddenly you freeze. You can’t think of what to write next. Maybe you perceive a problem or plot hole and you can’t think of a way around it. Maybe you woke up, sat down to write, and no words came.

I’ve been there. And I still end up there regularly. Usually it’s because I’m afraid of messing up my project, and I want to get it right. Well, newsflash, self. I can’t get it right all the time. And first drafts are supposed to be messy.

Still, just telling yourself to buck up doesn’t always get the words flowing. So what can you do instead?

Three ways to fight writers block

  1. Write something else for a while
    Walk away from the manuscript for a little while. Write a blog post. Or work on a different project for a few hours/days. Give yourself some time away and then come back and see if you have any new perspective or ideas.
  2. Pick a writing prompt
    The other week I had been dealing with the stress and frustration of writer’s block with a current project. So I went to a prompt generator site (two of my favorites are Writer Igniter and Seventh Sanctum) and picked a prompt that would lead me into writing about my characters again. I probably won’t use much from that writing session, but the point is to grease the wheels, to get the fingers flying across the keys again, and to get your brain back into that world and thinking about those characters again.
  3. Do something completely different
    Occasionally it makes sense to put down the pen or walk away from the keyboard altogether for a short time. Try painting, or take a long walk. Give your brain time to be creative in a different way so that whatever problem you’re working through in the manuscript has time to marinate. You’ll come back to the page with a better perspective and more ideas.
No matter what you have to remember to do what works for you. And when it stops working, try something different. Writer’s block is not a “forever disease.” So give yourself time and space to work out the puzzle that has presented itself. You’ll be pleased with the results when you finally get back to it.