What do you do when you’ve got writer’s block?
That very question has wandered through my mind on many occasions as I’ve stared at my computer screen, wracking my brain for any way to move my story forward. Overcoming writer’s block is one of the greatest challenges for a writer, and there is no set way to clear the obstacles blocking your creativity. So, what are we supposed to do to get out of a writing slump?
After trying some distraction tactics — playing a few games of Solitaire, walking around the block and getting a snack — I came back to my work-in-progress (WIP) feeling energized and full of ideas. My fingers flew across the keys and the pages filled up. Chapters fell into place and I was well on my way to bringing another happily-ever-after to completion.
Until my brain froze up again.
During one of those blocked moments, I decided to watch a Dallas Mavericks basketball game I recorded the night before. Right in the middle of the game, it hit me.
Overcoming writer’s block is exactly like basketball.
When Dirk Nowitzki is in a shooting slump, what does he do? Does he pass the ball to his teammates and let them control the game? Does he give up because he doesn’t stand a chance of winning since his shot has disappeared? Does he stop fighting and ask to be benched until he gets his head back in the game?
Nowitzki keeps shooting the basketball.
He’s learned something vital about shooting slumps. If he keeps shooting, the ball’s bound to go in the hoop eventually. It may take 10 shots, or 20. It may take a thousand shots. He will spend lots of extra hours in the gym before and after every game and practice, and he may even get some advice from his coaches or teammates. But, if he keeps shooting — keeps trying to push through the slump — he knows the ball must sink through the hoop eventually.
Just as Dirk must keep shooting the basketball to get out of his slump, we writers must keep writing words to get out of our writer’s block. Wherever you’re stuck in your story, just write. Move the story forward. The scenes may not be perfect — in fact, they may be downright awful — but the important thing is to get the words on the page. It may take a while, and you may need advice from friends, family or professionals in the business. But in the end, the ideas will flow and you will be inspired once again. Then, even though you’ll have scenes that need major editing, you’ll have the bones of a great story . . . and a few ideas that bounce off the charts.
So, what are you waiting for?
It’s game time! Get out there and write!