I have a corny saying, "I had a writer's block party, but all the writers forgot how to get home." I have gone through several stretches of writer's block in my life. In fact, I had a temporary case of writer's block before writing this post. Thus, I decided to write on this very topic.
Writer's block used to prevent me from writing anything at all. And that's the very thing that prevents some of my high school students from getting started writing their papers. What I tell them to do is to write about why they can't write or to write whatever is going through their head, it doesn't matter what.
The funny thing about writer's block is that once you start writing, it seems easier to keep going. The starting is usually the hardest part.
Why do we get it? I think I've come under its spell for a variety of reasons. I've had too many other things on my mind, I've tried writing to please an audience, I was tired, I was stressed, etc. It's hard to write if you're not in the 'write' frame of mind. I find it's best to write in a quiet place at a time you set aside just for writing. But this depends on you. I used to be able to write with music blaring or the TV on. I can't really do that anymore.
Years ago, I managed another blog called thewritersblockparty, dedicated to helping writers overcome writer's block. It grew to have a good number of contributors who posted photos, poems, and short stories. But somewhere along the way, I stopped posting and with it, so did my contributors.
I went on a long writing hiatus in my 20s, and it wasn't until I knew I would be a dad soon that my writing exploded again. I wrote four novels in the past two years. I think I saw the change of life as a wake-up call to stay with the craft I loved so dearly growing up. I didn't want to lose that part of me as I became a father.
Forcing yourself to write every day will definitely help lower the amount of times you run into writer's block, but it won't kill it off entirely. Plus, you have to be dedicated to do it. I wake up at 5:30 every day just so I can write for an hour each day. There are times that I just want to sleep in, and sometimes I give myself those times, but I know I would just give up minutes when I could be writing.
Writer's block is a beast, but look at it as a challenge. If you only write 200 words on a day that you have it, that's a success. The following day you might write 2,000. Stephen King suggests you write 2,000 words a day in his book On Writing, but that's Stephen King who writes for a living. You do what you can do. If you write 150 words on a day when you have a hectic schedule with terrible writer's block, kudos to you.
I just wrote over 500 words coming into an article with writer's block because I wrote about how I have writer's block. If you're really stuck, you could pick a creative writing prompt online. There are thousands of them. You don't always have to write about the short story or novel you're working on. Sometimes you need a break. And that break might spawn an idea into the next chapter of your book anyway.
I hope this gave you some relief for the next time you encounter that pesky writer's block. Happy writing.