That’s right, editor’s block. Not writer’s block – because you’ve already written all those pretty words. Your work is still in Stage Zero, and sort of feels like a little baby that you’re *sure* is so perfect, but deep down, you know it has a lot of growing up to do. Every Block is different, because there are different causes for them, but there is hope! Here are some tried and true methods to help Editor’s Block. Try the ones that feel right, sure, but you might have to go out of your comfort level to chisel away at this bad boy.
- Read something – Step away for a while and read a book! Snuggle in with some tea and a cat and read for a bit. It can be a novel, a nonfiction, or even a magazine. Read someone else’s words instead of glaring at your own. Sometimes it’s helpful to check out a writing craft book or a blog post for motivation. Which means, hey, you’re already doing Number 1! God job. You’ll get there. We’ll break through this together.
- Be social – I am an introvert, so this one scares me a little. But sometimes you have to get out of the house and see your friends or family. You can try giving them a call, but it might take you *leaving* your workspace and having some fun to get you out of the slump. Laugh, talk about your block, talk about their struggles that have nothing to do with your block, get away.
- Have a drink – This can come hand-in-hand with Number 2, if you want to try multiple things at once here. Writers love drinks! It can loosen those tightly wound word-knots that get jammed up inside us. A nice glass of wine, a shot of whiskey, an ice cold beer – all solid options. Just try not to edit once you’re sloshed, Tomorrow-You will not appreciate this.
- Watch a Movie – Movies are gold for me to get rid of a Block. Now this is important, it has to be a *movie*, not a show. Don’t plop down and watch another episode of The Office. Movies supply a FULL emotional and plot arc. This can help iron out any emotional hold-ups that might be hanging around. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to gasp, gasp. If you need to run around like a superhero afterward, do that. Movies can suck you in and help you forget about all the plot bunnies bouncing around in your manuscript.
- Play a Game – Sometimes it’s about the little wins. A Block can be caused by you not feeling successful at your process. Playing a game can combat this. Pass a level, drive a course in Mario Cart, beat up the bad guys, play a game of solitaire, build a house in The Sims, finish a puzzle. Or do some other creative outlet – dance, paint, draw, practice your somersaults. Just get something done. Do something quick and easy that you know you can finish in one sitting so that at the end of it, you’ll have had a win. That little confidence boost could be all it takes to get back to the writing and say “I did that and now I can do this.”
- Do those Chores – I know, I know. I want to skip this one as much as you do, but stepping away and cleaning something can be meditative. Stand there washing dishes, vacuuming, or folding laundry and your mind will clear – and you’ll have a cleaner house! Just be wary of Avoidance Cleaning – when suddenly you’re whole house is spotless, the dogs are washed, the closets are reorganized, and you’re calling to install new windows. Just do a task or two! Then sit down and try to write again.
- Leave! – Take a drive, go to a bookstore, go buy groceries, go to Target and stare at all the pretty throw pillows, step onto a bus or train and go somewhere else. Just stepping outside of your comfort zone (i.e. workspace) can completely clear your mind.
- Work Somewhere Else – If Number 7 doesn’t work, you can try taking your work with you! Stepping into a different environment can do worlds of good for your fictional world. Take your laptop or notebook or typewriter to a café, a park, a diner, a bookstore. Writers congregate in some of those places too so you’ll feel like you’re surrounded by coworkers struggling with the same things you are. What I like about working away from home is that I don’t want to talk to other people and there’s nothing else to do in the environment except focus on what’s in front of you. Forcing yourself to break through that wall can break a Block. This is even more powerful if they don’t offer free wi-fi.
- Binge Eat – This can be dangerous for all of us dieters, or at least those of us that like to think dieting could be a good idea if we weren’t binge eating. But seriously, some people work better with snacks! Personally, I like a bowl of edible things that I can distractedly pick at – like grapes, trail mix, sour patch kids, m&ms, etc. You can also sit and stare at the computer for an hour then reward yourself for all that hard work with a treat. Sometimes telling yourself that “if you edit these 3 comments/notes, then I’ll give you something you want” can motivate you.
- Work Out – After all that binge eating from Number 9, we need this one. Get up and work out, get that blood pumping, go out for a jog! Some people find this easy. I do not. I will avoid working out. I have told myself I will and then get in the shower like “whoops I forgot, well I’m already clean, guess I’ll work out tomorrow.” But those times that I *do* force myself to work out? (Assuming I don’t push myself too hard and wind up passed out, hunting down the sugar, and back at Number 9), I actually feel pretty good. Re-energized and ready to tear down my words with my confidence and new muscles.
- Read Out Loud – Not just anything, but your book. As that Whatever-Chapter is stalling you and your eyes are blurring when you look at the notes/comments on it, just start reading it. Read it out loud. Force the room to hear your voice. Then once you get to the part that needs editing (or maybe you pass it by), you’ll be able to go back with the chapter ringing against the walls.
- Try Again – Once you’ve tried other methods to get rid of Block, sit down and try again. But this time, don’t edit the part that was giving you trouble. Edit a different part. Edit something easy. Do a search for filter words. Run a spellcheck. Check for overused words. Read through a chapter you know is working and fix little things. Get your momentum up and running.
Good luck getting all those juicy words flowing again!