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I found myself with a bit of time to write the other day (and anyone that knows me is aware that this is A Very Rare Thing). So I sat down and stared at my screen. And stared. And stared. My brain had gone numb and I’d been swallowed whole by that dreaded thing – writer’s block. So I decided to dissect the reasons for writer’s block and come up with suggestions to overcome them…

Tiredness – The human brain can only take so much. Every so often, it needs to shut down and just be. And, at times like this, it stops functioning. The solution to this is simple – either rest (write later) or, if you’re pressed for time, just start typing/writing about your predicament – why you are tired – or about your surroundings – your blank screen, the objects to your left or right etc. Sometimes the brain just needs to be hot-wired into action…

Bad timing – You really don’t want to be writing right now – you have so much else to do and all those thoughts are getting in the way of your writing… and thinking. Solution: either go do what you’re thinking about or write down what you’re thinking about – you never know where it may lead you.

You’ve got a plot, but it’s not working – You know it’s not working, but you can’t solve it, and therefore can’t write about it. What works for me is starting to write a different plot/ character/ idea – this normally clears cobwebs and surprisingly often offers up the solution to the problem on a plate.

You don’t know where to start – You know roughly where you want to go, but have no idea how to even begin getting there. Solution? Write down what you do know – and then start writing down a list of possible paths to get there – even writing about the physical journey sometimes helps, as it’s the idea of starting somewhere and knowing where you’re going that causes the block, and working backwards helps with that.

There’s too much going on in your head – Does your head feel like a glass of air molecules constantly whizzing around and bumping on the sides? Too many ideas and no coherent thread? Write them down. All of them. Then start matching them up. You may find you only end up with 5/6 plots from the 50/100 you started with…

There’s not enough going on in your head – Nothing. Not even a snippet of an idea. This is usually the easiest one to cure – just fall back on one of the classics: read the first sentence on the fifth page of the book nearest to you and write about it, look left and write about what you see, look at your Facebook news stream and write about the fourth item down, think about what made you angry last week and write about it, write about something horrible happening in a place you love etc etc.

I think I’m done now (and, yes, I did solve my problem)! What are your writer’s block causes and how do you go about solving them?

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