Way back in autumn last year, I put out an article with a couple of my most trusted methods for beating writer’s block. This frustrating and almost inexplicable obstacle is the bane of my life and I sometimes find myself put off my writing for a week at a time for no real reason – I know, I’m weak-minded! Today I want to share a couple more techniques which have worked wonders for getting me back in the flow.
Last week, I mentioned that I spend a tonne of my free time listening to audiobooks and one of the main reasons I do it is that it always seems to get me in the right mood for producing my own work. I used to worry that using this method would subconsciously force me to write in the style of the author I was listening to at the time – the start of the manuscript would sound like Jane Austen, the middle would be Stephen King and it would end with a splash of J.K. Rowling, like some kind of patched
together Frankenstein novel. Lucky for me, it doesn’t seem to be going that way so far. The style has been consistent and only my levels of inspiration have changed, so I guess I can call this one a success.
Using audiobooks to aid your writing can be dual purpose too. Try setting yourself word count goals and reward yourself by listening to a chapter of your audiobook when you finish. This should help you top up your inspiration as well as giving you something to work towards.
Clear Your Calendar
I find it almost impossible to write when I know I’m on a time limit. Maybe it’s just a bad habit of mine, but if I’ve got a meeting or appointment to attend, I will spend the whole hour leading up to it just clock watching every few minutes and that makes it almost impossible to get into a good flow with my writing. For this reason I recommend reserving more time than you actually intend to use for your writing; a good, rough benchmark for me is to have about 50% again. So, if I intend to write for an hour, I reserve an hour and a half in my calendar. If I want to write all morning, I make sure I’ve got no appointments until mid-afternoon. Of course, this isn’t always possible and some people lead such busy lives that they struggle to find any writing time at all. But in an ideal world, you will find yourself much more relaxed and productive if you can leave that buffer between the end of your writing time and the beginning of your other responsibilities.
A side benefit of working like this is that once you come to the end of your session, you can wind down by finding an appropriate point in your writing to finish for the day, and still have time to take any notes to get you back on track next time. This will do you far more good in the long term than simply shutting down your computer the second your time is up.
If this method appeals to you, but your schedule is just too fragmented to give yourself ample time on a day-to-day basis, you might consider using a writers’ retreat. These organisations will provide a quiet working space for you for anything between one day and several months. If you can spare the holiday time, it can be very useful for giving busy writers the excuse to clear their calendar, switch off their phone and just knuckle down. For those of you in the US, you are in luck! Many writers’ residencies are free so get on google and get out there. Here in the UK, we aren’t so lucky as almost all of them are paid. But, in my opinion, writers’ residences come in many forms. How about booking an affordable hotel or even a holiday apartment and setting up your own little workshop?
I still have a couple more tips to share with you, but I seem to be running out of space so I will leave it at this for now. Please drop me a comment and let me know how these methods worked for you. If you liked this article, please click like and follow, and look out for my next article when I will be talking about the pros and cons of experimental and mixed media literature.