I think sometimes we all need to take a break. Getting into a writing routine or schedule is a good goal, but sometimes it can harm you more than it helps you. I was having trouble moving ahead with my current work of progress. It was moldering away in a word document while I stared at the screen until my eyes went numb. Needless to say, that was not especially helpful. Or helpful at all.
I was beating myself up because this specific story is very important to me. I just had absolutely no idea what to write. The way to get out of this rut isn’t to keep harping about the piece you’re having trouble with. For me, it helps to take a break and maybe just free write, or write some poetry. Sometimes when I think I’m having writer’s block, I’m just having fiction writer’s block. It’s not that I’ve run out of ideas, but that the framework of a novel or short story can sometimes make it hard to express what you want to say. In poetry, you don’t have to worry about balancing plot and description. You don’t have to worry about staying in character. This can be really freeing after weeks of working on one piece. It helped me to pull some solid ideas out of the jumbled mass of words in my brain, and to realize what was actually going on inside my head. Because, if we’re being honest, sometimes we all have trouble putting abstract ideas and feelings into words.
Another thing that helped me get over this bout of writer’s block was reading. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who reads often, but with so many reading-heavy classes, APs and finals to study for, and what seems like a billion other things to practice or finish, my day seems to have shrunk. If I have a free minute, I usually use it to catch up on some sleep. This past weekend, though, I decided to dedicate my two (mostly) free days to reading. It was incredibly relaxing and it made me very happy. When I finished an amazing book around one in the morning, I no longer was at a loss for what to write. I generally don’t believe in lightning bolts of inspiration, but that was what it felt like. I had so many new plot ideas and scenes planned out in my mind that I could hardly get them down fast enough.
Finally, one of the things that will shake your I’m-useless-and-I-can’t-write mood is going out and, well, doing things. Yeah, you have obligations. Yes, there’s school. But just forget about it for one night and go somewhere with a friend, or go buy a latte and some delicious (unhealthy) food from somewhere. Take your notebook or laptop and write somewhere new, if you like, or just go out and notice things. You’re a writer, but you can’t forget about the living part of writing. Maybe the barista at Starbucks will inspire an entirely knew plot in your story. Or maybe not. But either way, caffeine and chocolate are cures for pretty much everything, even writer’s block.