There’s a lot of stuff out there for overcoming writer’s block, from advice to writing prompts to nifty tools like Write Or Die that outright punish you for not spitting out words. Some may work for you, some may not. But there’s one piece of advice that I think is pretty universal: if you’re having trouble writing (or even if you aren’t!), it’s important to surround yourself with writing and those who are continuously doing it.
One thing I’ve learned since I started writing more regularly is that our craft is much like a trail of dominoes: get one idea down and another will surely follow. Most ideas lead to another, but occasionally, there’s a moment when the dominoes stop falling. That’s okay, and all it takes is a bit of repositioning or a new setup to get them moving again! Ultimately, it seems that the more ideas you have, the more you’ll continue to have—because when forming these ideas and putting them down on paper, you’re actively engaging with your creativity. And surrounding yourself with others who do the same, professionally or otherwise, will help you continue to do so.
I recently experienced this, myself. One of my proverbial dominoes wasn’t spaced correctly early this year and I hit a blip in my writing. After an excitingly productive last half of 2013, I charged into the new year, writing resolutions clenched in my determined fist, and ran straight into a brick wall. A combination of a really busy outside life and sheer exhaustion from the writing marathon I was on for several months prior finally took its toll, and from January until now, I’ve barely written a (fictional) word. Thankfully, that’s starting to change, and it’s all because I finally submerged myself in the community again.
I started off by checking Twitter and updating a few small areas on the blog. Seeing all you word sprinters out there inspired me: “look at all the writers actually writing!” It was time to get back into the game, but I wasn’t sure where to begin. That’s when I saw an article on one of my recently “liked” writing-related Facebook pages: a list of free writing podcasts. I needed something new to listen to at work, so I figured I’d give them a try, and eventually stumbled upon Writing Excuses.
Writing Excuses is an awesome resource for fiction writers—especially those of the Fantasy/Sci-Fi persuasion—in which four established, professional authors and countless guest speakers advise listeners on everything from plot structure to word counts to characters and world building. Each episode comes with a recommendation for book of the week, as well as a writing prompt for those who need an idea. I’ll get more into detail about Writing Excuses in a future post, but in the meantime, I highly recommend you check it out!
Point is, while listening to these episodes during the workday, I found myself coming up with countless ideas. Blog topics. Changes that had to be made to my fantasy WIP. Sudden realizations of what’s gone wrong in projects past and present. And while some of these ideas and epiphanies were direct results of the lessons or writing prompts provided by the podcasters, many of them were my own, springing out of my subconscious as if they were waiting for their perfect moment to pounce. I think spending so much time consuming it all has gotten me to a point where I’m ready to produce, which makes sense: to be a great producer, you first have to be a voracious consumer.
So in that vein, I’d like to give you a short list of some of my personal favorite writing resources. If you’re having a hard time writing—or simply want to get better as a writer!—spend some time flipping through these and absorbing their pure, writerly awesomeness. If you don’t get any direct ideas or help from them, you’ll at least feel inspired. I promise you.
- Writing Excuses – because it’s too darn awesome not to mention again.
- The Writer – the first writing-related magazine I ever picked up, and the publication that made me fall in love with writing… about writing.
- Pub(lishing) Crawl – A fun, informative, honest blog on writing, publishing, and all the stages in-between.
- Let The Words Flow – Pub(lishing) Crawl’s original blog, which I contributed to for a short period of time. Though the awesome ladies at LTWF have since moved to Pub(lishing) Crawl, they’ve left up all their content on the original blog, and there are a TON of great resources and information there in the back log.
Hopefully some of these help you out in the future! Do you find the writing community to be a big catalyst of your work, or do you work better when isolated? Do you enjoy or try to avoid feeding off others’ inspiration? Let us know, and happy writing!