A Band-Aid For Writer’s Block

Yesterday, quite by accident, I discovered a cure for writer’s block. Well, perhaps not a cure, more like a Band-Aid.

It has taken me a week to write seven paragraphs, and I was getting tired of my hero moping around his apartment while the world was ending. In book time, it was merely a matter of hours, but still, it was getting tedious. Besides, too much introspection is not good for a character. What happens if he begins questioning where he came from and discovers he’s merely a figment of imagination? He thinks he’s real. It would devastate him to find out he’s not. Even worse, he might go on strike, and then I’d never be able to write the book.

Determined to get him moving so he has no time to think, I dragged my work-in-progress to the breakfast bar that separates my kitchen from the living room where I have my weight-lifting equipment, and I worked on the novel in between sets of bench presses, upright rows, behind the neck presses, curls.

To my surprise, by the time I finished my workout, I had written an entire page. I also knew how I wanted to write the scene. The poor guy had been terrified to go outside — he’d seen creatures that had been long extinct and heard screams of absolute pain and terror, but I finally coerced him to get going, and last night I completed the chapter. Hallelujah! It was good, too, and did not sound at all like I’d been struggling with it.

So why did this Band-Aid work? Could be that the exercise pumped much needed blood and fuel to my brain. Could be that by standing at the breakfast bar to write I bypassed the part of my brain that says “time to work — not.” Could be that it was morning rather than evening when I usually write, and so the words snuck out beneath the radar of my internal censor.

Whatever the reason, it worked.

So, if you have writer’s block, or are merely stuck in a scene that you can’t get out of, change your venue of writing, write while exercising, write standing up, go for a walk, do anything to get the blood flowing and your mind working. You really don’t want to give your characters time to think. They might realize how much power they have.