Need Creative Writing Help? 6 Tips to Unstick Your Creativity
You have a killer idea for your first—or next—book. You’re stoked. You sit down at the keyboard, waiting for the magic to happen.
And then you keep waiting.
It’s a challenge we’ve all faced. Some call it writer’s block. I think of it as writing friction—you’re not blocked forever, after all. You’re just a little stuck. But how can you unstick your creativity and get your fingers tap-tap-tapping away at the keyboard again?
Let’s take a look at some of my top tips for creative writing consistency that will help you unstick your creative brain and get back to work.
When I Realized I Needed Creative Writing Help
Before I dive into my tips, I’m gonna rewind for a second and tell you a little story about the moment I first realized I needed creative writing help.
When I first started writing seriously (by which I mean starting novels and actually finishing them), I was under the misguided impression that, since I had historically been a strong writer in school, I would just naturally be able to write a novel and nail it on the first go. I wrote three full manuscripts while laboring under this delusion. After querying these projects and getting nothing even resembling interest from agents, I realized I had a problem.
I had no fucking clue what I was doing.
I was getting stuck at points in my manuscripts, and I didn’t know why. My stories weren’t coming out the way I’d envisioned them, and I wasn’t sure how to fix it.
I needed help.
To this day, I remember this moment of realization, and I count it as the moment when my writing career actually began.
So, if you’re stuck and feeling like your creativity could use a bit of a boost, I hope that one of my top tips for breaking out of your creative rut can help get you moving again. Let’s go!
1. Read Something Unexpected
I’m sure you’ve heard the advice that all writers should also be readers. So, the advice you should read voraciously to keep your creative appetite up is probably no surprise. However, when I’m really and truly stuck in a project, reading more stories that fit my usual fare (high fantasy) sometimes doesn’t cut it.
That’s why my first piece of advice is if you’re feeling creatively stuck, read something unexpected. Branch out from your usual genre—if you’re usually a romance reader, maybe pick up a thriller. If you only read novels, snag a short story collection or a book of poetry.
Reading something a little different always helps shake up my brain, and sometimes that’s all I need to get the creative juices flowing again.
2. Move Your Body
My second tip for smashing your writer’s block into smithereens is to get up and move. I use this tip in my day job, too. I always go for a walk or work out on my lunch break, and I always joke that post-lunch MJ is much smarter than pre-lunch MJ. Suddenly, the problem I was chewing my lip over for an hour has an obvious solution once I get back to my desk.
There’s probably a science behind it, but all I have is anecdotal evidence. If you’re just mildly stuck—stuck on a single plot point or having trouble working out a character moment—a workout might be just what the doctor ordered. And by doctor, I mean your muse. (That finicky bitch).
I also find that the more regularly I exercise, the more creative I feel. This probably won’t work for everyone, but it definitely helps me!
3. Try Writing Sprints
Tip number three is very much in line with people who take the “butt-in-seat” approach to unsticking your creativity. Basically, this approach seeks to beat your writer’s block with… more writing!
The trick with writing sprints is to avoid multitasking at all costs. When I’m in the middle of a writing sprint, my phone is on airplane mode. I’m not checking Twitter. I’m not even stopping to research things, brainstorm just the right name for a character or place, or check my notes to recall someone’s eye color. In a writing sprint, I’m just writing.
I’ll use placeholders inside brackets to cover details I know I don’t have ready at the moment, like [NAME HERE] or [CLEVER METAPHOR], and then I keep charging forward.
Is the prose I end up with after a writing sprint clean? No, no it is not. Usually, it’s really messy. Sometimes, it’s borderline unusable. Does the sprint help me force my way through whatever’s blocking me and get my creative energy back on track? Absolutely.
4. Make (Different) Art
When you’re writing, you’re making art. As a result, it can be easy to let other creative endeavors fall by the wayside. Especially if, like me, you’re not necessarily artistically inclined in any other way.
However, creating without the pressure of making your usual flavor of art can be really freeing and help inspire and unstick you. I am a terrible painter. However, I still paint with watercolors when I feel like I need to jumpstart my creative energy or I’m feeling burnt out with my writing work.
Sometimes, taking the pressure off and allowing yourself to create something just for the joy of it can remind your brain how fun being creative is.
5. Read Writing Blogs ;)
Hey, look, you’re ahead of the game on this one!
Another thing I like to do when I get stuck is read writing blogs. Writing blogs offer amazing creative writing help in every sense of the phrase. You can get advice on character creation, worldbuilding, plot structure, and more from writers who have been around the block a time or two. Since blogs are free, you can read as many as you want, take the advice that works for you, and leave the advice that doesn’t.
I recommend reading blogs to unstick your creativity because, sometimes, the root of your writing friction isn’t burnout. Sometimes you’re stuck because something is missing from your story’s foundation that you need to add before you can continue to build your tale.
Reading a writing blog might make you realize there’s something you need to learn about your characters before you can continue writing the story or show you how worldbuilding could solve the plot hole you’ve been tearing your hair out over for the past week and a half.
Also, sometimes it’s just nice to read accounts of other writers struggling with the same shit that’s driving you nuts. No writing experience is universal, but the experience of getting stuck creatively is about as close to universal as it gets. Welcome to the club; it sucks sometimes. :)
6. Brainstorm with a Buddy
My last tip for getting creative writing help and escaping the desert of blocked creativity is to have a brainstorming session with a writer friend! You can do this in person, over a Zoom call, or on the phone, or you can brainstorm with other writers on social media.
Obviously, brainstorming with someone about your own project will help you get unstuck—you can bring in outside ideas and perspectives that might help you figure out a tough plot wrinkle or sort out a stubborn character. Honestly, though, some of my most reinvigorating conversations have been brainstorming sessions about another writer’s book.
By listening to someone else’s struggles and helping them untangle the lines of their story, it’s like it reminds my brain that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I do indeed know how to write a book. Sometimes, that’s enough to get me moving again.
Using Creative Writing Help to Finish Your Manuscript
And there you have it! My top six methods for tricking my brain into writing my book instead of just staring off into space and tearing chunks of hair from my skull. I’ve found myself in writing lulls and creative droughts more times than I can count in my years of writing. But, with the help of these tricks, I always manage to dig myself out and get back to work.
You may have to use a combination of these tips to get yourself moving again. Still, hopefully, with just a walk around the block, a conversation with a trusted writing buddy, or a few more writing blogs, you’ll be fucking unstoppable.