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How to Overcome Writer's Block and Ignite Inspiration

Meet Sarah Kate Ishii, a writer coach and publishing consultant.


blog post about self-publishing helping indie authors - How to overcome writer's block and ignite inspiration




Get ready to learn about proven strategies to overcome writer's block and ignite your creativity!


We're thrilled to feature Sarah Kate Ishii, the author of the fantasy book series Dynasty Code, and renowned writing coach and publishing consultant. With her expert guidance, we'll explore practical strategies and exercises to help you break through barriers and reignite your passion for writing. Let's dive in!




 


Writer's block



As a published author yourself, what are some personal experiences you've had with writer's block, and how did you overcome them?


S: I’ve certainly struggled with writer’s block, especially earlier on as I was at the start of building a writing habit. However, now I’m a big believer of creativity as a muscle, as I’ve learned the more I write and use creativity, the easier it gets. It’s like starting an exercise routine. At first, working out is really hard, because you’ve not used those muscles or skills before. Creativity and writing is the same. The more I wrote, the better at it I got. The more I brainstormed ideas for blogs, short stories, novellas, and whole novels, the better I got at creating new ideas. Now I’ve built myself a daily routine that works for me, including a daily writing habit. Even if it’s a tough day and I only write a few lines, I know I’m steadily working towards my goal and keeping that creative writing habit going. I’d recommend everyone to think of it from that mindset.


"creativity as a muscle, as I’ve learned
the more I write and use creativity, the easier it gets"

 


blog post about self-publishing helping indie authors - How to overcome writer's block and ignite inspiration

Strategies to overcome creative blocks




How do you approach guiding writers through creative blocks, drawing from your own journey as an author?


S: It’s hard to get going from scratch. I mentioned before that I thought writing and creativity is a muscle, and I really believe it. If you’re at the start of your writing journey or stuck in a creative block, start slowly. If you start too big, you’ll tire yourself out, because you’re forcing yourself to use muscles and skills you’ve not fully used properly. So start small. Try these:


» Set a timer for 5 minutes


In that time, just sit and jot anything down. It doesn’t have to relate to a certain book or an idea. Just whatever comes to your head. Repeat that every day.


»  Have an ideation session


I liked to set a habit to ‘ideate’ every day, where I’d basically sit down (again just for a couple of minutes or five minutes) and create a little brainstorm of ideas that popped into my head at that time. They didn’t have to be anything in particular. Sometimes then they’d help build onto others. Could be a book idea. A character. A blog post idea. A social post. A line. A poem. Dinner I wanted to try. Just get used to having ideas and putting them down on paper. Transferring what’s in your head onto paper is a skill of its own.


» Try journaling


Try journaling. Lots of people look down on journaling, but it’s another way to learn your mind, find your voice, what you like, and learn the skill of putting what’s in your head onto paper. You’ll be surprised how well it pairs with creative writing and building a writing and creative skill.


» Try drawing


Your characters. A scene. An item. Anything. You don’t have to be a great artist. It can be stick figures. It’s just getting your brain thinking about creative things differently. You’ll find your brain mulls over words and concepts and stories as your hand is working on the art.


»  Moving meditation


Go for a walk, do a bit of gardening, exercise, swimming, anything. Your body and your mind grow together, so building your physical body will help build your mind. And often, your head will work over things as you move, and you’ll have ideas you never even thought you could have if you let your head casually process a problem or idea while you exercise. Building a workout into my daily routine right before my writing slot was a game changer in my writing routine. My word count pretty much doubled from when I had the workout afterwards instead. After my workout, my brain was fully awake and ready to go!



 


How to spark the creativity with writing prompts



Can you share any specific writing prompts or exercises that have been particularly effective in sparking creativity for you and your clients?


S: I always recommend little and often. Most people are busy and find it hard to fit writing into their day, especially when they have work and families. Due to that, I want people to realise they can do a lot with just a little time. So it’s all about the little things.


»  Set a 2 or 5 minute timer to write


I like to use timers a lot in my own work and my coaching. A short timer is no pressure so people don’t feel like they have a lot to cover, and oftentimes when the timer goes off people are surprised to find they want to keep going! (That’s the perfect response!)


»  Find writing prompts related to your genre and challenge yourself


Find writing prompts related to your genre and challenge yourself in small chunks. Again, just a few lines or a few minutes a day. This helps grow your skill, helps you find your voice, all while exploring concepts you might not pick for yourself so it challenges your creativity really well. A great place to go for these is actually on Google, or Pinterest.  


I've got several awesome lists with prompts in the works, as well started building free resources page for writers to help you tap into your full potential effortlessly. Be the first to know when they're ready by subscribing to my site's email newsletter. Can't wait to share these with you! Storycraft Gateway


 »  Journaling


I’ll repeat journaling again. Learning what’s in your head and your heart and learning to put your thoughts and your mind on paper is a great start. People in writing often try to replicate another writer’s voice and get so stuck. When I was a publishing project manager, I often heard ‘I want to be the next J K Rowling’ or ‘I want to be the next Stephen King’. But if you think like that, you’ll be disappointed, because you can’t sound like them. Instead, it’s best to find your own voice, what matches you and your personality best, and journaling can help with that.



"it’s best to find your own voice, what matches you and your personality best, and journaling can help with that"


 

blog post about self-publishing helping indie authors - How to overcome writer's block and ignite inspiration

Mindset and self-care



What role does mindset and self-care play in your own writing practice, and how do you encourage writers to prioritize these aspects?


S: I love this question! Mindset and self-care are huge. If you don’t take care of yourself first, how can you write properly? Mental health and physical health are both important, and I want to help writers realise the holistic side of writing. In fact, I have a newsletter dedicated to the holistic care of a writer, because it can be too easy to just focus on the writing side, and having to handle writing, socials, marketing, selling, and everything that comes with it is really challenging. Iit’s easy to feel like you’re drowning.


"If you can’t maintain your personal health, it’s hard to maintain a writing habit."

We all know how it feels when you’re unwell or blue and you just stare at the screen and can’t. Mindset is knowing you can. I love personal growth and self development books because they help me create a growth mindset, an open mind, and one of constant learning that helps me in my writing. Mainly:

"writing is a journey.
My first book won’t be a big hit. Because it’s my first one. "

We don’t expect a football player to immediately play a perfect game the first time they hold a ball, right? So why do we expect that in writing a book?


"I’m here for life, for the journey, and each book I write I’ll learn a little more and get better, and I want my readers to join me for that journey as they see me grow as an author. "

I wish other authors thought this too. Writing is a journey. And it’s hard. That’s why self-care is important. You have to show up every day. Write a little every day. To do that, you need to look after yourself. Exercise. Eat well. Create healthy habits. Go outside. Meet people you love.  Your mind bleeds into what you write, so make sure you can give it your best.


I started writing Dynasty Codes when I was eighteen. There was something missing in it and I stopped for ages. I’m glad I did. I look back at old versions and it’s so moody. I was in a bad place, and everything was so dramatic. It’s interesting how your health plays with what you write.


When facing moments of self-doubt or resistance in your writing, what strategies do you personally use to push through and keep moving forward?


S: A great question. It’s easy to self-doubt. When you’re at the start, just building your audience, your platform, you’re not getting many responses and it’s hard to build reviews. It’s so hard. Especially when you see authors in a higher place, where you want to be.


Here, focus on you. Remember it’s a journey. Little by little, you’ll get there.


I try to do one thing every day. Just one thing towards my writing, and I know then at least no matter how hard things are, I did something towards my dreams.


It’s like the theory of 1% growth:


If you don’t do anything towards your dreams, that’s 1% worse every day.

1% worse every day in a year is 0.99³⁶⁵ = 0.03 progress in the year.


BUT


1% better every day for a year is 1.01³⁶⁵ = 37.38 progress in a year.

So celebrate the small achievements and use them. Do just one thing each day towards your dreams, and then even when it’s hard, you’ll know you’re always progressing.


There’s always self-doubt, naysayers, imposter syndrome. But I’m viciously chasing my dreams every day, so I focus on that. One day, I’ll get there. I want others to hear that too.



 

Developing creative process



How do you balance the discipline of writing with allowing space for spontaneity and exploration in your creative process?


S: I think a combination of planning and discipline along with spontaneity and exploration is important in creative writing. For example, I’m a plotter in the spectrum of plotter vs pantser. I like to plan what’s happening in my WIPs and give myself prompts and cues for key events and concepts and characters. But within that, between key events, I give myself freedom to write as it comes. I’ve had whole new characters introduce themselves (Nubia in Origin Curse being ones of the best ones) and places the book takes itself in a whole new direction to my plans, and I like to embrace that. It’s those moments where the characters and story writes itself that means as an author I’m in the zone. So have a rough idea of what you’re writing, but don’t stick to it so rigidly.


Along with that, when I’m in my best writing place, I often have multiple WIPs on the go at once. I wrote both adult fantasy novels and children’s picture books, so it’s easy to have a children’s one on the side. When I started, I was adamant to stick to just one WIP. I saved everything else until later. But it meant things backed up. Now I have one main WIP I work on daily and even have multiple adult fantasy novels going on the side too, that I dabble with and add to when inspiration strikes. That way I can make sure ideas that pop up get noted down and given the attention they deserve, rather than being pushed to ‘later’. I like to make use of excitement when I have it.


The main message though is for people to do whatever works for them. Know how you work best, and be free about how you work, but follow your creative process. Everyone is different.


Just write and find your own voice and style at your own pace.


 

Sarah Kate Ishii | storycraftgateway.com


Get ready to conquer writer's block and fuel your creativity with Sarah Kate Ishii, author of the fantasy book series Dynasty Code, and renowned writing coach — explore her expert guidance and practical strategies to reignite your passion for writing. Head over to her website now to discover how she can help you further and take your writing journey to the next level. Don't miss out on the chance to unleash your full potential!





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