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Expert tips on how to beat writer's block

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Are you grappling with writer’s block? Let the experts at Janklow & Nesbit, who have partnered with Stylist.co.uk on our fiction competition, be your guide...

Avoid social media

Delete the Twitter app from your phone, and give your password to a friend. Otherwise you’ll spend the rest of your life writing three words, needing to google something, reaching for your phone, and scrolling mindlessly through #amwriting tweets for the next hour.

Start a conversation

Talk to other writers about your writing. If you feel like your characters are dull and your plot is full of holes, talking it through with someone else can sometimes help to unlock the solution. Alternatively, whingeing about how completely unmalleable your protagonist is for half an hour might expel some of that frustration you’ve built up, and allow you to move forward.

Take a break

Go and do something else entirely. If you’ve spent three hours staring at your computer screen and you still haven’t written anything, go and find something else to do. Pop to the shop for a coffee. Bake a cake. Hoover the house. Have a bath. Something that you have to use your hands, more than your brain, for is always good, because then your brain has space to whizz along in the background, digging through whichever wall you bumped in to. Hopefully, by the time you get back to your computer screen, the words will already be spilling from your fingertips.

Bonus tip: if you chose to have a bath, take a notebook and a pen in with you just in case. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a brainwave when your hands are wet and the room is full of steam, and by the time you’ve got to your computer you’ve forgotten the thing that was going to solve your plotting crisis.

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Try a writing prompt

Get a bunch of writing prompts together, stick them in a hat, and write 500 words on the first one that comes out. It doesn’t need to have anything to do with the writing you’re blocked on, but it can help to get the words flowing.

Here are some sample prompts to get you started:

You wake up in a forest. How did you get there? And what is that awful smell?

While exploring a ruined building, you get trapped in a dark room. You’re not worried, until you hear a noise right behind you.

Keep going

Just write words. They don’t have to be good words, and they don’t have to make sense – introduce aliens, or a gun, or a kitchen fire if you need to – but getting some words down is the hardest part. Once they’re there, and it’s done, you can edit to your heart’s content. But sometimes it takes a good hard slog to push through that wall and find the path again.

Enter the Stylist.co.uk fiction competition here. Entries close at midnight on 2 April.

Words: Rachel Balcombe, Agent’s Assistant at Janklow & Nesbit

Images: iStock

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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Features Editor at Stylist

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