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Sometimes, no matter how much you want to sit down and write, you just can’t get your brain to stay focused. The ideas aren’t coming to you and the longer you stare at that blank page, the more you begin to feel like your mind is being wrapped in cotton wool. It’s frustrating. But there are ways to beat writer’s block.

A quick google search will bring up countless writing exercises to help you get back on track and they can be a great help. But today, I want to share a couple of tips that have nothing to do with what you’re writing, and everything to do with how you approach the task.

Do Something Completely Different

This particular idea came from my dad, who has absolutely nothing to do with writing, unless you count the illegible scribbles that he adds to my mum’s shopping list from time to time. I had absolutely no faith that this would work when I heard it, but after giving it a go, I’m totally convinced.

Routine is the enemy of creativity. If, like me, you have a very repetitive schedule (work-write-eat-sleep), you are soon going to find yourself running into writer’s block. So instead of writing tonight, I suggest you get up from your desk, leave the house, and do something you would never normally do. It doesn’t have to be expensive. If there’s a park near your house, go for a walk there and feed the ducks, if there’s a fun-run being held, enter. The more you are leaving your comfort zone or breaking your schedule, the more effective this will be. If you have the money, you could do something more unusual, like go on a ghost tour, or take go-karting lessons.

These activities don’t need to be in any way related to your writing. Just get out of your routine and your mind will be refreshed. Trust me, it works.

Time Yourself

So, you’ve tried bungee-jumping, open heart surgery and circus acrobatics but the break in routine is not quite enough? Here’s one more thing to try. You’ve probably noticed by now that getting started on your writing is the most difficult part. Whether you’re at the very beginning of your manuscript or half way through, as soon as you raise your fingers to the keyboard for the first time that day, all inspiration vanishes. This technique may help you overcome that hurdle.

Set yourself a time slot. It could be a couple of hours, or even just ten minutes. But tell yourself that you are going to write something for at least that amount of time. It doesn’t even matter if you come back to it tomorrow and delete everything you wrote. Just get something on the page.

This is useful in two ways. Firstly, it forces you to make a start, without fussing over whether it will be any good. And secondly, it is much more manageable to write within a set period then it is to leave your writing session open ended because you will just spend the whole time worrying that you will run out of ideas again any minute.

When your timer runs out, you may well find that you are back in the flow and can keep going. If not, take a break away from your desk for a while and then come back and set yourself another time slot. You will be surprised how much easier it is to write once you have overcome the initial pain of getting started.

If you get the chance to give these techniques a go, be sure to drop me a comment and let me know how it went! If you enjoyed this article, please click like/follow and join me again next week when I will be discussing three things that every good novel must have.

Featured Image by Loozrboy