Writer’s Block – 10 Tips for Busting Through It

When asked about the most frightening thing he had ever encountered, Ernest Hemingway said, “A blank sheet of paper.”

Everyone knows what writer’s block is, especially Fan Fiction Writers because we write a lot! From the writer contemplating that very first story to the most successful writer you can think of, they all hit the wall from time to time. I’m here to end your suffering with these 10 tips–keep them in your back pocket and writer’s block will be a thing of the past.

So with that in mind, here are a wide variety of methods for overcoming writer’s block. Hopefully one or more of them sound like something that might work for you. Give them a try. After all, what have you got to lose?

  1. Outline. It’s my personal opinion that most people get blocked because they aren’t sure where their story goes next. If you take the time to outline before you get started, you will rarely run into that problem. You might not quite have your brain wrapped around the details but you have the big picture to guide you on to the next scene and that should be enough to keep you writing. (Need help with this? Here’s a Story Plan Worksheet.)
  2. Free Writing. Set a timer for a short period of time, say ten minutes, and just write nonstop until your timer goes off. Do not lift pen from paper, or fingertips from keyboard. It doesn’t matter what you write about, even if you write, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” over and over…just don’t fall any further into The Shining than that.
  3. Establish a Schedule. Set aside time to write and stick to the schedule. If you train your body to show up at the same time every day, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes, eventually your mind will do the same.  Many Fanfic writers have gone on to successful Profic careers so creating good habits now is essential.
  4. Research. Set a time limit and go online and do some research on something peripheral to your fanfic world. If you write for a crime procedural, Google the city your show is set in or famous serial killers or common police codes. Anything that might serve to keep you connected to and gives you ideas for your fanfic.
  5. Focus on Dialogue. Think about the scene you’re stuck on. What are your characters arguing over or getting ready to reveal? Write as fast as you can, don’t correct anything or worry about punctuation or attributes. Just write the lines. Then go back and add the rest in, including the narrative that belongs in the scene. Even if you end up only using a little or even none of what you write, it will get you involved in the scene and move you forward.
  6. Set and Keep Deadlines. Many writers have a hard doing this on their own, so get a group from your community together. Being responsible to someone else goes a long way towards motivating me when I’ve had a crappy day at work, my power goes out and/or my basement floods (welcome to spring in the Midwest). Ficathons or community challenges with deadlines can be great for this as well.
  7. Use a Prompt. This is especially useful if you’re having a hard time coming up with an idea for a new story. Community challenges and Ficathons are also great sources of ideas for Fan Fiction writers since they also typically have some sort of prompt or required elements involved.
  8. Create a Writing Space. If you have a designated space that you use just for writing, even if it’s a folding table in the basement where you daughter is banned from disturbing you unless she’s bleeding…What? Don’t judge. The point is, if you set aside space and carve out the time, you train yourself to work when you get there.
  9. Transform a Fairy Tale. Fairy tales, like most of our Fan Fiction worlds, are dramatizations of universal struggles between good and evil, exploitation of the innocent, or consequences of foolish actions. They consist of a deeply desired goal, a struggle against opposition and finally a satisfying outcome. So think of the heart of your favorite fairy tale and use it as inspiration for a new story starring your ship.
  10. Do Something Else. But set a timer. Go watch the DVR’d ep of Castle you missed last week, take a bubble bath or bake some chocolate chip cookies…okay maybe just eat the dough. The point is, clear your mind and focus on something else, right up until that timer goes off. Then get your butt back to work.

Hopefully you’ll never need to actually use any of these writing tips and the words will just pour out of you, filling page after page with wonderful stories that garner you millions of adoring comments and an army of faithful minions. But now you have these in your arsenal…just in case. And as an aside, I know Hemingway was the epitome of macho, but that fat, strangely transparent spider that scurried up the wall by my basement table scared me a hell of a lot more than a blank piece of paper ever could. But that’s just me.