Beating Writer’s Block: Write Something Else

Write Something Else

Sometimes, the easiest way to get past Writer’s Block is to write something else. I’m not saying completely scrap your progress on your book or poem or story; I simply mean that you put it aside for a period of time. Give yourself a chance to gather your thoughts on the project again. Quite often the problem is a lack of enthusiasm for something, because you’ve been writing it for a long time, and an increased amount of enthusiasm for another project that you can’t write at the same time. Pick one, and settle on it.

If even for one day you write something else, you’ll find that you can focus more fully on the projects that really matter to you. Now, if you have some financial stake in a project, dropping it at short notice is obviously the wrong thing to do (if, as most likely is the case, you have bills to pay.)

At the time of writing these articles (several years before they’ve gone up), I could have also been writing a novella. I could have been working on a longer non-fiction book, or a series of books that I want to launch. There are dozens of other projects I could have been working on. These articles – put together as a book – was my primary focus, because it was the one that could potentially help pay the bills. However, I hadn’t given up entirely on everything else. Through time management and the proper planning of work and goals, it was possible for me to maintain a prose and poetry blog, and my personal blog, and write an article a week for my website.

None of it is so difficult that I can’t continue on with it anymore, because I can write across several different projects at a time. Here’s your task for this post, to help you overcome Writer’s Block.

First of all, figure out how much time in the week you can devote to writing on a daily basis. Whether it’s ten minutes, an hour, three hours, or the whole day, you need to know.

Secondly, write down a list of all the potential projects you have to work on. At the top of that list, write the name of your current work in progress.

Thirdly, re-write the list in order of how much you want to write the project, and how much of a benefit it will be to you to write it.

Fourthly, put a line under the fourth or fifth project, if the list is long. Anything below the line isn’t necessary to write just yet.

Let’s look at my list, as I write this article:

  1. 25 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block (you’re currently reading No. 22)
  2. ParagraVerse poetry and prose
  3. Articles for my website
  4. My personal blog
  5. My novella, The Blood of Leap
  6. My longer book on writing
  7. My Science Fiction novel, which needs editing and submitting to a publisher
  8. My new fiction series
  9. A Fantasy novel I want to write

That’s just at the moment. There are other projects tucked away elsewhere in my files, but for now these are the nine I’m working on. While writing these articles, because it’s such a huge undertaking given the short period of time I’ve given myself to complete it, I didn’t touch number 5-9 until towards the end of the writing process. Even then, I only turned to the Writers’ And Artists’ Yearbook and Writer’s Market in the search for suitable agents and publishers for my Science Fiction novel.

Yes, the list needed to be re-ordered when I’ve finished the book. I needed to establish what was most important of the larger projects to focus on. That’s important, though, to regularly evaluate the work you have to do. I know that before I would have just continued with those projects that remained. I would have continued writing the prose and poetry, and the personal blog, and the articles, but I could have only dipped in and out of each other project. That doesn’t help.

So, when you’ve established what you’re going to work on, you’ll work on number 1 on your list the most. However, it won’t be the only item you’ll work on. Choose smaller projects to help create a balance in your workload. I ensured I’d written my daily target of chapters for this book before I touched any of the other items in my top four. Knowing that I have something else to turn to, though, helped to maintain my work ethic. I didn’t become de-motivated, I didn’t struggle with Writer’s Block, and I didnt’ miss out on my personal deadlines as a result. I worked within the hours I had available, and since taking the approach outlined in this chapter, I’d been productive. This was between going to work, minding my niece and moving around rooms in the house.

Write something else, and continue your main project at the same time.

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About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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