Earlier, I happened to mention that sometimes your writing muse gets flaky and skips town. That leaves you wide open for the writer’s block goblin to pounce.
While it’s super helpful to know how to combat writer’s block, it’s even more useful to know how to stop it from happening in the first place. Here are my top five ways to keep your muse on the clock.
1. Have an outline
If you’re a pantser (one who thrives with the unknown and writes without an outline), then you’re probably hissing at me right now. But have no fear: you don’t need a full, 100-page outline complete with a table of contents, footnotes, and a note to self not to change a thing. If you have a solid idea of where your story is going, you always have direction. Even a quick chapter summary works in a pinch.
2. Write something else
If a particular chapter or passage is giving you trouble or boring your muse, you don’t have to throw down with it. Unless, of course, you want to. Try skipping around to another chapter, one that catches your interest. If your muse refuses to work with you on chapter eight, skip to chapter eleven and see if she’s more reasonable.
3. Go outside
If she isn’t more reasonable, try giving her a mini vacation. Take a break from your writing time and do something else. Listen to music. Hang out with friends. Hike. The hobby that tends to keep y muse at ease is rereading my favorite books. Turns out, interacting with someone else’s muse can get yours excited too. They’re like two chatty moms you can’t get off the phone.
4. Develop a routine
This one is very similar to the outline idea. A lot of people think that writing needs inspiration. And while that’s partly true, inspiration is not a very reliable source of creative juice. If you want to ensure that your muse comes to work on time every day, you need to make your own inspiration.
Try doing similar writing activities every day. Maybe you like to do prompts to get you warmed up, and then you like to write a chapter and take a break. Get into the same rhythm every day, and writing will come easier.
5. Just keep writing
Whatever it is that you write, be it fiction, nonfiction, or even poetry, requires work. True, writing is such an enjoyable activity that it doesn’t feel like work (sometimes!), but the words won’t get written unless you write them. Try not relying on outside factors to put you in the writing mood and just keep at it!
When you feel like you’re going to get stuck at a particular place, don’t panic. The writer’s block goblin will only get you if you let it. So, all you have to do is keep giving your muse work to do, and she’ll do it. Sure, sometimes it’ll feel like you’re pulling your own teeth…but you’ll get words down on the page. And it’ll be worth it.
These are some of the tricks that work best for me when I feel like I’m about to lose my muse’s interest. I hope you’ve found this helpful! Don’t get discouraged; you’ve got this! And remember: If you just keep writing, the goblin can’t get ya.