Routine, Discipline, Commitment – Tips for writer’s block

I’d been trying to push out this story for a few hours.

It’s stuck. I’m uninspired. I’m empty.l

And I remember the interview I came upon a few years ago, alone in a hotel room, somewhere in Europe, after a day of workshops and ‘performing’ – after a shower, ready to collapse into an exhausted sleep.

There seemed to be nothing in English except CNN and I was tired of hearing the same news over and over. Then I found BBC World and miraculously, an interview with JK Rowling.

Now I’ve been a fan of hers for years. Not just because I love Harry Potter, but because I recognize her depth of knowledge of literature and her sheer mastery in the craft of complex storytelling.

One question (and particularly her answer!) really struck me, so much so that it’s stayed with me for years. She described a book signing where a little girl came up to her and asked her if she only wrote when she was inspired. She laughed and said that if she had only written when she was inspired – she would have about 7 pages written by now.

She went on to talk about the job and practice of writing. About routine, discipline and commitment. As I listened, I recognized myself. I’ve rarely faced an empty page (or screen) filled with inspiration and a deep desire to write.

Mostly I face the empty screen with commitment, discipline and a deadline. The page always gets filled.

So some tips for the uninspired:

  1. Give yourself a deadline (and keep to it).
  2. Plan a reward (that cup of tea that you’d love – only when you’ve finished the piece!)
  3. Shut down distractions (especially social media)
  4. Change your environment – go to a coffee shop or anywhere that doesn’t give you the option to clean the house, hang the laundry, raid the fridge or paint the walls!!
  5. Be kind to you – take a break, a nap or a snack and then come back when you feel fresh.

So, here we are. I’ve reminded myself how to get unstuck and in doing so, the piece is written! What tips can you offer to help get you moving and back into the creative zone?

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