Karlene Cameron experiences writers-blockDark Awakening took me 10 years to write.

Yep, that’s right. Ten. Long. Years.

While some of the delay was caused by life events getting in the way, there were also moments when my creativity ground to a halt.

No words. No ideas. No brilliant character arcs. Just nothing.

Anyone who has ever taken the time to write on a regular basis has fallen prey to writer’s block. A head that was full of story plots and character development details one day can quickly turn to mush the next. I’ve discovered there’s really only two options when this happens: set aside the story and dust it off again several months (or years!) later, or engage in a few little writing tips that help me get out of my own head and my sci-fi romance novel writing back on track.

Here are my 5 tried and true tips to overcome writer’s block:

  1. A Change of Scenery – Even the most aesthetically pleasing writing space can quickly turn into a bare bones jail cell when writer’s block sets in. Mexican coastline provides inspiration for Dark AwakeningWhen this happens, I pack up my laptop and head anywhere else that has a Wi-Fi connection — and preferably with a bar! I often find a change of scenery (coupled with a shot or two of whiskey) can add a different perspective, access to new sights and sounds, and an opportunity to relax. Usually the combination is enough to flip the creative switch back on.
  2. Move to a Different Part of the Story – Oftentimes, I experience writer’s block when I’m trying to build a specific scene or chapter. Rather than slogging my way through the scene, I often jump to another part of the story that needs development. While I now — for the most part — try to write in a linear fashion (largely so my addled brain can remember the plot!), I am not above jumping around if it gets me out of my rut. Plotting the story line in advance is also a tremendous time saver and gives me the ability to jump to another area of the story and still maintain the central idea.
  3. Relax –A little yoga, meditation, deep breathing, even a good brisk jog can take my mind off the areas where I’m stuck.  Yoga provides inspiration for Dark AwakeningI discovered some time ago, the more I focus on  writer’s block, the more stressed I become. This is especially true if I’m working on a deadline. While it may seem counter intuitive to close the laptop and take a break, that’s exactly what I do to recharge.  While I’d love to tell you this is never longer than a few hours, there have been times where I’ve needed several days before I feel like my muse has come back after an extended coffee break.
  4. Free writing – Sometimes I just can’t get the story moving forward. Usually when that happens, it’s because my romance novel isn’t the only thing in my head. On those occasions, I open a new document, and then spend the next 15-20 minutes writing about the first thing that pops into my mind—even if it’s pure nonsense. Sometimes it’s just a long rant about how frustrating it is to have writer’s block. The act of writing in such a free-flowing manner can often be cathartic and help open the creative flood gates.
  5. Create a Writing Routine – When I first started writing, I treated it as a hobby, only tapping away on my computer when I felt inspired or creative. Writing Routine for Dark AwakeningWhat I’ve learned is that I need to treat writing as if it were my career—a full time job that requires discipline and a deliberate  schedule for writing. Having a routine in place creates a sense of urgency to get the work done, and makes it more difficult for me to just sit around and wait till creativity strikes.

Being creative isn’t something that just happens 24/7. Sometimes, it takes a bit of work. And of course, when I really feel uninspired, I read a book for an hour (or a day!). That alone is often all that’s needed to stimulate the creative side of my brain and get me excited to write again.

What are your proven methods for pushing past writer’s block? Do you have any tips not shown here? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.