5 Writing Warmups to Bust Through Your Writer’s Block
Writer’s block: the sworn enemy of every author.
Much like the guy who crashed on your couch in college, it moves in at the worst time possible, makes itself comfortable, and seems intent on staying indefinitely.
Sound familiar? Luckily for you, today’s the day to kick out that squatter called writer’s block.
Authors need to warm up their mind just as much as runners need to warm up their bodies or vocalists need to warm up their voices.
According to editor and writing coach Jane Friedman, there are 5 main reasons for writer’s block:
- Losing your way: Nothing in life ever goes exactly as planned — and this is especially true for writing. Whether your character has developed into someone different than you imagined or your book takes a whole new pat, you may feel a bit lost and out of control of the story.
- Waning passion: If you focus on writing the same piece on a daily basis, there are bound to be moments of lag and boredom.
- Lofty expectations: This can happen when the perfectionist in you takes over and you come to expect to be the next J.K. Rowling by your first book release. While dreaming big can be a great trait, there’s a fine line between big dreams and anxiety. The more you pressure yourself, the more writing can feel obligatory.
- Burn out: Simply put, you’re physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and have nothing left to give. It feels impossible to tap into your creativity when you can barely remember to have lunch.
- Distractions: Whether your kids got sick or you wrecked your new car, when life gets crazy, the last thing you’re worried about is inspiration for your next book.
Warming up can help overcome all 5 of these challenges by keeping you motivated, confident, stimulated and inspired. Below are 5 handy writing warmups to help you break through your next writer’s block.
This warmup is especially handy for creating characters. Next time you’re stumped, look around the room and find an object nearby.
Come up with specific details about this object’s life, desires, history etc. Once you have a feel of what your new friend is like, write it a character profile.
Start with basic statistics such as its family life, home of origin, maybe even a job. Once you have a detailed image of the world the object lives in, move on to physical characteristics.
Go beyond the obvious color/size trap. Consider what its voice sounds like, how it would dress or move.
Now’s the time to really dig in. Cover the objects intellectual, emotional and spiritual characteristics. Does it believe in god? What kind of god? What motivates the object? How does it deal with challenges? What makes it nervous or overjoyed?
Sometimes the work you’ve written off as cringe-worthy contains hidden treasures that could serve as your latest inspiration.
Go through old notebooks and write down lines and concepts that resound with you today. You may find inspiration for a new story or character hidden in an old treasure. You can even try mixing and matching different lines to see if you can breathe life into a new poem.
Take a moment to think about daily occurrences you typically overlook, like the ringing of an alarm clock, the voices on the morning news or the color of your neighbor’s mail box.
Let your mind run free, and don’t be afraid to step into a new genre. The simple act of watering plants can transpose into anything from a poem about a jungle waterfall to an essay on the beauty of orchids.
Take a break from worrying about what your audience will think, and create a support-ive imaginary friend to write to instead. This friend is so supportive, in fact, that they’re your #1 fan.
Start with giving them a story. How did they find you? Why do you inspire them? What’s their background?
Next, draw a little picture of them and put it by where you write. Write them a letter of appreciation for all their support. It’ll be the best gift they’ve gotten all year.
Writer’s block can often hit before you’ve even sat down to write. You can trick the devil by sneaking up on it from behind — that is, start your new story with a captivating end-ing first.
Kill off your protagonist, create a new plot twist, or whip up a cliffhanger. This doesn’t have to be actual ending to your work. Be flexible and allow your mind to indulge in any possibility — so long as it helps you keep your pen to paper.
The most important part of breaking through your writer’s block is to not give up.
As French author Henry Miller advised, “If you can’t create, you can work.” If one side of your brain isn’t working, warm it up from the other side by trying new angles.
Next time you hear writer’s block knocking at the door, grab your pen, choose a warm up from the list above, and write it away. The more you practice, the easier it gets.