I hope this post finds you and your works-in-progress well!
This week, I’m sharing a fourth tip on how to conquer writer’s block. It’s a morsel of wisdom I learned from none other than the incomparable Ernest Hemingway, who I think we can all agree is worth listening to when it comes to storytelling insight! 😉
Mr. Hemingway’s advice isn’t for defeating writer’s block as much as it is for preventing its occurrence in the first place. Here it is:
“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.” (emphasis mine)
I’ve been employing this tactic for a couple of years now, and it’s truly made a tremendous difference. Instead of stopping my writing sessions at the end of a scene or a chapter, I often stop in the middle of a paragraph, or even mid-sentence. This ensures that I don’t spend the first twenty minutes of the next session scratching my head, wondering where the heck to start (wondering and head-scratching often lead to social media scrolling, so it’s best to avoid those activities at all costs!). I’m able to jump right back into the previous day’s work without missing a beat, and without wasting time.
If I feel I absolutely must finish the chapter (sometimes your creative flow cannot be stopped!), then I make sure to at least prepare the following day’s scene. That way, once again, I don’t bring a blank brain to the screen; the ideas are already there waiting for me, gleaming like gifts under the Christmas tree. All I have to do is sip my coffee and get to work unwrapping them!
Stopping “when you are going good” also leaves you on a sort of creative high at the end of your session. You walk away feeling confident, accomplished, and eager to start again tomorrow because you know you won’t be returning to an intimidating void of white space.
At first, it may feel strange to quit while you’re ahead, but I promise it will set you up for success the next time you write. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!