6 Ways to Bust Through Writer's Block

6 Ways to Bust Through Writer's Block



good evening it's me your friendly neighborhood thought-criminal I'd like to talk to you tonight about writer's block this video comes as a response from a request from Sean Shaw who's a comic book writer asking how do I get over a writer's block and writer's block something that's really common and that a lot of writers complain about and even very very big famous writers that are super productive like Stephen King I've talked about getting writer's block within particular stories what is writer's block writer's block is basically you don't know what to do next you don't know what comes next you're either stuck on a part of the story or you don't have an idea for your next book or your next story that you're trying to write as a composer as a music composer you can get writer's block and not know what you're supposed to do next now let's do not know what the next phrase is supposed to contain and can't think of any ideas for how to continue and you can get artist block too if you're feel like a painter or a visual artist you can definitely get artist block and not know what the next thing that you're supposed to do creatively is and writer's block is very frustrating because creativity for most people is not a switch where you like let me turn this on and now I am creative right creativity happens in bursts and then other times it happens in lulls and it happens different for every person send me with inspiration and I'll talk a little bit about like overcoming the problems with inspiration and and how to avoid the pitfall of only working when you you feel like you must work but there's lots of reasons that you get writer's block you may get writer's block because you're at a point in the story where you don't know where to continue that's the most common place that I see people say I have writer's block is they've written a story and then they got to a point and they don't know what's supposed to happen next and this usually happens because you kind of jump into a story with two feet you know with both feet because you like the idea of some idea that's in this story that's really inspiring to you so you jump in you you you hit the Hat you hit the iron wall top then you get to a point where the heads not hot anymore and you like what do I do I don't know how I'm supposed to finish this story and so you like wrack your brain trying to come up with ideas or you sometimes you may get writer's block because you're suffering a lack of confidence you have a collapse of confidence where all of a sudden you're not so sure about the quality of the story you're writing and I've certainly had that happen to my to myself and I've known lots of people that I've had to happen they have a crisis of confidence in the middle of writing a particular work you may also suffer from apathy you may get to a point where you just don't care to continue with a particular project that you're doing and it becomes a very it becomes a burden to try to finish it it becomes a burden to try to complete whatever you're working on so apathy can cause writer's block but whatever the cause of writer's block I'm gonna give you five ways that you can hopefully bust through that and and get back to finishing your project and hopefully doing it a high quality the first one is go work on a different project this may seem weird but it's it tends to help a lot because psychically you're still felt productive even though you're not being productive on the exact thing that you really want to finish you're still being productive so you get to that point in that book where you just like I don't know where to go and put that you know close that document put that to the side work on some other project or some other idea you have start working on that and spend your time working on that other project and you'll find just the time away from from the first project will alleviate a lot of the frustration when you go back to it you may have better ideas about how to come up with it and it also just buys you time to think of stuff for how to continue it without you feeling like you're wasting every day not being productive you're still being productive but yeah you're not finishing the project you want to finish but you are still trying to develop ideas though that are hopefully going to make it good and make you able to finish that project number two is go recharge your batteries by consuming some other media this is something that a lot of really really highly productive creative professionals will say that you must do is that if you are a writer you need to be a reading and whatever your medium is so if you're a comic book writer you need to be reading comics you need to be reading manga or graphic novel formats that appealed to you and are part of your art if you're a novel writer you need to be reading novels and if you're trying to write screenplays or teleplays you need to be consuming that media as well and you should be consuming them crossways like you should be able to play a game and get ideas for how you want to write a book those those things can definitely cross pollinate but take a take a break and say I'm gonna choose to not work for a day or two and I'm gonna just consume something go down to the bookstore find a new book sit down spin a day and just read that book and don't worry about being productive because when you go back to whatever project it is you're working on you're gonna find that the time away from it has alleviated a lot of the anxiety you had over trying to complete the project it maybe given you a couple of ideas certainly when I'm reading a lot of writers I become hyper aware of a lot of the things that they're doing in the story and how those work and how those maybe don't work so I know what things to avoid am i writing what things I could maybe do to really to really make what I'm doing effective and know where I'm going to go with it the number three idea that you can have is to change your location change your physical location change what your environment of what you're doing it in this is why you see like a lot of writers at Starbucks as cliche as it is is it's just a different place other than your office that you can work and in a lot of cases your writer's block may come from an excess of distractions that can hold you back you know you may have the Facebook open someone may be messaging you all the time you may have your phone out right and so just getting away from to a different location where you don't have you know the cat's need to be fed or whatever else needs to happen at your at your house just getting to different locations sometimes will really free your mind up to focus on what you need to do to to go forward so the number three to three one is try changing your location and number four this kind of goes with it try changing your productivity routine change your productivity hygiene as I like to call it which includes you know decide I'm gonna work from this time to this time and really dedicate yourself and focus on that work close off the other stuff and really try to get it this is the thing that I we struggle with right now because I'm I'm out for my normal work routine I haven't gotten back into it I've got a million things going on with family I've been traveling and doing all kinds of other things it's been almost impossible to have good work hygiene in the last couple weeks in last month with me but I'm constantly trying to improve this habit so that I could be more productive and finish the things that I want to finish and avoid feeling like I'm my wheels are spinning or I'm just stuck and I'm not progressing with the project so number four is improve your productivity routine but that I really recommend pick a time that's that's gonna be your time to work and stick to it every single day I've actually looking back I've actually lost relationships because I refuse to break my productivity routine for social engagements so you know I've had you know a girl called me be like well you should you should come hang out tonight and like I can't got a practice you know and they get upset about that because today in practice is meaningless but to me it's everything because that's what I do is I practice I'm a musician so I never blow off the obligation of work time and you should you should approach that to is make sure that you have that productivity time if you feel like you have writer's block it's really easy to blow off the work time because you feel like you're not gonna be productive but but very least sit with that word processor open for two hours or however long you decide you need to work everyday and and just push it out so you would see what happens sometimes staring at a blank page will give you ideas so have that good productivity routine and it will pay off for you he needs to be an obligation along with other things you need to make it a high priority number five is do it anyway even if it sucks so whatever just make something happen put something on the page no matter how bad it is I've said this before it's better to have a bad manuscript that's complete than to have no manuscript that's complete it's better to finish a project and have it not be good than to never finish the project a lot of people that are new to whatever the creative endeavor it is whether they're like a composer or they are a a writer a lot of times that first projects the hardest to finish because of the crisis of confidence that I mission mentioned people start to think that like what they're doing sucks and they sort of give up on the task but the truth is you really you really owe it to yourself to finish it no matter what happens it's better to be editing and rewriting a banned manuscript because you know what can be improved then it is to never have finished that manuscript in to have given up on your dream okay so so just put something on the page it doesn't matter and I will share an anecdote with you and this is I don't know this is a famous one but it's one that I know uh-huh so it's famous to me so Matt Matt Stone and Trey Parker and they're the guys who do South Park and for one season you know years ago they you know they come up with all these show ideas before the season start and they keep saying like we keep wanting to write all the shows ahead of time when we always end up writing them the week of out of necessity so sometimes necessity will definitely push you to to get past writer's block as well so if you create a necessity maybe that could mean like five point five or number six you know create necessity and you will finish your project and I actually I'll have a story about that we'll call that one number six but number five do it anyway so they came up with this idea and you probably you may have seen the South Park episode with the Queer Eye for the straight guy sort of parody and making fun of that so that was a big thing you know many years ago like 2004 or something and they they came up the show idea it's like we're gonna have it all be about square for the straight guy and you know all the women will start getting upset that all the men are being super metrosexual and all this kind of stuff and they didn't know how to finish the show though they didn't know what the ending was they're like there's no ending to this this isn't really a plot and and so what what one of the what those two guys came up with is they're like okay here's what it is in case we don't finish it's crab people okay so Jeff just throwing it out there we'll replace it with something better but it turns out that the queer eye guys are crab people well you know time came around and they're like we're making the show and we don't know how to end it and said like we have to do crab people because we came up can't come with a better idea so they just put it out there and they had the crap people in it and it turned out to be very very funny when the crowd people came out it was like a shock it was this non sequitur feeling you know kind of like what something random happens in like Family Guy people often often really think that that's funny when they really take the randomness to the extreme so it was something that was very unexpected and I think it ended up making the episode quite a bit better than it could have been like more memorable because they had even had little songs that they made up for the crowd people were like crab people so crab people the moral of story is crab people do it anyway even if it sucks make it crab people do something zany off the wall if you have to but just finish whatever the project is and you'll be glad you did because at the very least and it sucks you know what to fix about okay and so I guess number six the added one is necessity is the mother of invention if you create necessity for doing something you will find a way to do it and I can attest to this personally is I I publish all my stuff serially before I put it out in you know in like a and more complete novel form and the reason for that is that it if you have an update schedule and people will say this about doing YouTube videos I don't really have a youtube update schedule I just do them when I can do them and and that's because YouTube is not like you know it's my life's kind of chaos right now so I just can't make it like a regular regular I can't have a good work hygiene on it but anyway if you have an update schedule if you're like I have to come out with an update every single day and for a long time and I took a break for a couple months but for a long time it was I came out with 1000 words every single day Monday through Friday so five days a week 1000 words minimum that meant my minimum productivity level for any given day was a thousand words right and that will keep you going if you know tomorrow I have to turn this in it's kind of like turning in that term paper right you're like I don't at a certain point you know you have to do and it doesn't matter if it's not quite up to to the total standards it's better to have it done and then edit it later than it is to just not have it done so creating the sets before creating an update schedule for whatever you're doing will force you to finish projects as well and so when when you have to do it you're just you're gonna bust through the writer's block because you don't have any other option to do it so I've ordered those things in the order of like you know the most gentle to to perhaps the most attacking the problem head-on and forcing yourself to do it but it's a really really common problem a lot of people tend to have a like an ego crisis when they can't come up with any ideas or they can't organize their thoughts and I you know it's it's tough for me I can say the often people say like how do you come up with all your ideas I'm like I don't know but I have a lot of them I have never in my life had time on my hands and not known what to do with it never in my life have I ever had here's time for me to work and I have no ideas in my head I have never had it happen I've got a queue of so many books to write and so many ideas that I don't think I'll ever finish it I think I will die before I finish all the books that I want to write Act I'm almost certain I will just as most authors really do but that queue is massive and I always have something new to work on at any given moment that I'm doing and I always have there's always work to do so I never have writer's block in the sense that I don't have an idea for what's next or I don't have an idea of what my next projects gonna be anytime I have writer's block it's not that I actually have writer's block it's usually something else it's bad productivity it's distractions it's the fact that I jumped jumped into a project without thinking out the entire thing and I actually did that last year I had this really cool idea and it's called the bright children you could find it still as part of it on my website like the first couple chapters and I just jumped in it with both feet I had these really great ideas about it and after I started writing it I realized that I didn't really like where the story was going and I didn't know how to deal with that I'm like I just keep writing it even though I don't like it and I decided no I had you know I had this real kind of block with it I'm like no I really need to go back and correct the trajectory to make it go where I really want to go with it and then I will be a lot more able to finish the project I won't have writer's block with it so sometimes that happens in fact that's a frequent thing we jump in with both feet first and we don't know what to do lastly I will leave you with an idea that I think is pretty important which is don't be a slave to inspiration being a slave to inspiration this is like the idea of inspiration like I got inspired and in this argument it's it's actually a very juvenile idea and it's not realistic for being productive in the real world as an artist as a musician or as a visual artist or as a writer or something else the idea that like we have these bursts of inspiration and then we're able to work and create something very quickly that that usually doesn't happen you may have a burst of inspiration that gives you that idea but then there's all this perspiration it's you know it's 1% inspiration 99% perspiration there's all this hard hard hard hard work you have to do to realize whatever inspired you and a lot of people forget that and when they're not feeling it when they're not feeling super inspired they tend to not work on something and that's the opposite of what you should do you should develop all those good work routines so that when you're not feeling particularly inspired you can still execute your craft and in the confident way that you know how to do it and be able to complete your projects and be satisfied with them I can tell you for a fact that inspiration comes and goes you are not always gonna feel super excited about this profession and you're not gonna always feel super excited about whatever project you're on in fact whatever profession you're in that's gonna be true it's knowing how to do that day to day grind that will keep you moving forward so that when that next inspiration happens you're ready to start being meaningfully engaged to that project and not feel like you're bogged down in a bunch of stuff that you never complete you need for your psyche to be able to complete this project and that means busted through that writer's block and getting to work so thanks so much for watching don't forget to Like comment and subscribe give me your thoughts below and please let me know what you want to see in what you want to hear them always happy to to deliver if I can and wherever you are whatever you're doing have a great great day don't let the thought police get you because I'll be next

21 Comments

  • Nathan Baca says:

    C R A B P E O P L E

  • Rhaenyra Reigns says:

    6 Ways to Bust Through Writer's Block
    01. @02:51 – Go work on a different project;
    02. @03:47 – Go recharge your batteries by consuming some other media;
    03. @05:16 – Change your location;
    04. @06:04 – Try changing your productivity routine (hygiene);
    05. @07:58 – Do it anyway (even if it sucks);
    06. (a.k.a. 5.5) @9:00 – Create necessity (a.k.a. Necessity is the mother of invention).
    #DontBeASlaveToInspiration

  • Rhaenyra Reigns says:

    LoL @2:40 – "I'm gonna give you 5 ways that you can hopefully bust through that and get back to finishing your project."
    *checks title*
    "6 Ways to Bust Through Writer's Block" ^___^'
    EDIT: *watches till the end* … Oh… 😡

  • Abhishek Bilkan Aind says:

    I discovered your channel because of my dislike for Star Wars The Last Jedi; Initially assumed it was just another rant but I stopped for your thought-provoking content. I subscribed and now I am on a watching schedule of one of your video each day. I write so this particular video is like Ambrosia at this point.

    I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is hard to find a content creator who thinks like you and harder still to find channels that cater contents on the precise topic that most of your work depends upon. I had been suffering from a minor WB since last summer and this video is exactly what I needed. Your other contents have been really helpful and terrific as well. Once again, thank you sir.

  • Mike Gordan says:

    1.  Watch a movie, or binge watch television shows on a streaming service.
    2.  Grab a bite to eat and then do menial chores.
    3.  Play that new video game, and then watch other people play video games.
    4.  Watch funny cat videos, post them on FakeBook, and then read internet articles about writing.
    5.  Check on your email, and when you find nothing but spam, start hating yourself and throwing a pity party.
    6.  Drink away your misery and become so bloody drunk that you start vomiting profusely in a nearby toilet.

    Rinse, repeat, until you either write something completely incomprehensible, or until you're dead.

    And as for the question of how to write a strong, female character?  Well, simply put, don't write a strong, female character.  Just write a well-written female character that people can get behind.  That, my friends, is a stark difference between Molly Bloom and Admiral Haldo.  Or if you want fictional characters, a stark difference between Wonder Woman and Admiral Haldo.  Just don't be self-conscious about it and just write a solid character that can stand on her own two feet.

    Personally, if I were to write a female character, I would probably make her a pinnacle of good morals, but lacking the strength and resolve to argue them.  After becoming a damsel in distress, she is so distraught over the horrors she had just survived and after the man that came to save her had died to do so, that she is left with profound survivor's remorse.  She vows to become strong, but eventually, finds herself in a chasm between her compassion and virtue, and the need to be strong-willed.

    Basically, I'm subverting both the damsel-in-distress, the Mary Sue, and the strong, female trope into something deeply complex and philosophical.  And all three of these caricatures are widely frowned upon.  Ultimately, she becomes a Paragon closer in spirit to Wonder Woman, but also must consistently fend off her weaknesses and her own inner darkness and fears.  An inner conflict she must constantly engage in for the rest of her life.

    Did I forget to mention that she's not even the central protagonist in that story?

  • Brandon Ninja says:

    Have a question how do you write a strong female character?

  • RenanLSMaster says:

    Sometimes you know when the story is and when it will be, but you do not know what is between the both. That is very bad too.

  • Grey Shirt Gaming says:

    David, I have noticed over the course of writing my first book as well as writing any college papers that I can only focus on the actual act of writing for about 10-15 minutes max, sometimes even less. No matter how determined I seem and how prepared my writing session is I will suddenly feel incredibly fatigued and nearly falling asleep. I have to step away from my workstation, or notepad and walk around or watch a bit of youtube/netflix. Then I can come back and write again. Have you ever experienced this? It makes me frustrated, perhaps it's just me aging (just hit 30) and not being as energetic when I was in my teens/20s.

  • Marina Bruno says:

    Loved this video! Very helpful… Check out mine! I have different tips 😬

  • Marylis Jodoin says:

    cause of wirter's block: fear of editing… when you're around 20 000 words and you realize you have to change something form the beginning. or you screw your timeline somewhere… then…freeze

  • Alex Stone says:

    Yeah, can you tell this to my students… Maybe they'll listen to you.

  • happydappyman says:

    Good video man, great advice.
    I've been busy lately and I've been using any spare time I have to chill with friends, but I wanna finish reading your book!
    hope other people haven't finished telling you about all your spelling mistakes 😉

    taste like craab, talk like peo-ple. Craaaab People. Craaaab People.

  • Shawn Shaw says:

    +David Stewart Thank you this helps a lot. I know another method for me is to write the ending and work towards it. It may change but the fact that I'm headed towards that point is helpful.

  • Gallen Dugall says:

    Reminds me of John Cleese's bit on creative thinking. Personally the problem I have isn't a block so much as it is revulsion about picking open the scabs that have crusted over in my mind if I stop writing for very long. Once I make myself start writing it flows like a pricked artery. It's a day for gross imagery.

  • Star Trek Theory says:

    Sorry, I have to hit the road, so if you cover this, just tell me to watch the rest of the fucking video… are there disadvantages in outlining a story backwards?
    Instead of "Two guys walk into a bar…" & go from there, start your process from the end you want & fill in the blank.

    I'm not talking about doing the STORY in flashback, just having an idea of how the hero saves the day BEFORE you go into the character development?
    Sorry this isn't concise but I'm going without my lunch to write this 7 i'm trying to get out of here

    Does building a story to justify a desired climax 7 moral lead to Marty Stu bullshit?

  • Robert Alexander says:

    you're very intelligent person. I went through school getting bad grades from not trying etc but as I get older the regret is overwhelming. not gonna give up all hope though

  • Sashi says:

    You know.. writer's block would be nice if you actually started a project. What about procrastinating? I have a huge problem with that and I don't know how to deal with it. Some things just don't seem appealing to me but I'm forced to do them and I just keep putting them off for the last possible minute. :c

  • NRN says:

    Thanks for making this video. I've heard these things before but it really helps to hear it again.

  • PissedFechtmeister says:

    Funny how it works. In over 30 years of playing guitar I don't think I've had a single instance of composer's block. On the flip side my writer's block is so persistent and strong that I've completely given up on trying to write anything longer than a short story.

  • AceTechHD says:

    Experiencing writers block myself right now. Thanks for the pointers David!

  • Geahk Burchill says:

    My big block is always because I've got characters in a situation, (they often need to be in) but I'm not enjoying. Currently I've got two characters in a bit of a romantic scene (which has to go wrong for my story purposes) it has to be sexy but awkward and humor arises from that and it's purpose is to convince both of them they aren't right for one another. (Something that effects the plot later)

    Problem is, I fucking HATE writing this scene and I don't know how to get around it. It's like eating my vegetables. It's gotta get done if I want to write the fun stuff that comes after.

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