Killing Writer's Block by Working Backwards
There are tons of articles on how to avoid writer’s block, how to never get writer’s block, and how to stop your writer’s block instantly. Unfortunately, writer’s block will still happen to every writer. There are some ways around writer’s block though that aren’t quick-fix methods and can help other pieces of your writing process. Proofreading, checking for grammar and punctuation mistakes, working on sentence structure, theme, motif, or setting, and trying to use new and different words in your existing work, can help push you over your writer’s block.
Writers demand so much from their minds they forget that, just like any other muscle, the brain does tire. Writer’s block is not always a matter of overstimulation. It could be that you have forgotten an important plot point that would move your story forward; or maybe you are stuck on just how to end the story; or maybe you want to finish one section before moving onto the next but there are no thoughts coming to mind. But what about the other links in the writing process chain? Reading over the work you’ve already completed can help massage your memory, fix grammar or punctuation errors you’ve missed, save editing time, and catch plot point mistakes. It can also give you a fresh perspective on your story. When it becomes difficult to move forward, why not try working backwards?
Proofreading can be the easiest way to change your mindset and kill writer’s block. Not only does it force your mind to change gears but it helps you to clean up your work, delete the extra fluff writing, and add in extras like motif and theme. It’s like taking a step back and looking at the big picture when you’re struggling with one pixel out of place. Using a site like Grammarly (www.grammarly.com) can help with proofreading as well. It locates your errors (ones that Microsoft Word might miss), teaches you how to correct them, and notifies you of your most common mistakes. Grammarly is a comprehensive tool that allows you to learn what to look for when you proofread as well as how to properly punctuate a difficult sentence. It also has a context-optimized synonym generator to help you vary your word choice. Over the years, I’ve noticed I use a lot of the same words to describe certain items in my stories. When I found Grammarly, my eyes were opened to a whole new way to explain and describe items I was writing about. Looking at each piece of the writing puzzle can help you to not only break writer’s block but also improve your writing overall.
Rereading your material can help you see the big picture when you’re fighting against the pressure of writer’s block. Improving your sentence structure, punctuation, style, theme, dialogue, and characterization will help the overall proofreading process in addition to the quality of your writing. Mechanics are essential to writing so why not try to improve them and make forward progress when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels? Sometimes writers sweat the small details when they should be viewing what they’ve already accomplished. They spend hours worrying over the fine details of their first paragraph in their first draft. They feel as if they can’t produce progress in their plot unless they write this last little section. But if they took a step back, looked at their work as a whole, edited, looked over the details and how their characters arrived at where they are in the story now, it would be much simpler to move past the writer’s block and into forward motion.
By Nikolas Baron
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.