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10 Proven and Effective Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block
If you’ve ever experienced writer’s block, you know that it’s no laughing matter. It affects your work as a professional writer and impedes your writing for days — or worse, weeks. Instead of getting the work done, you sit and stare at your laptop all day.
You worry about how you’re going to transform the thoughts in your head into words, or you don’t know what to write about. As much as you want to ignore the problem and hope it goes away, you know that writer’s block is one of those problems that need to be solved. If you’re suffering from writer’s block, we have created 10 proven and effective ways for you to overcome it. But first, let’s discuss what writer’s block is.
What is Writer’s Block?
Writer’s block is the state of being unable to write something new. For many writers, it’s a condition that’s often difficult to overcome. It can take days, weeks, or months for writer’s block to last. But, what are the causes of writer’s block? Why do writers experience it?
In the 1970s, clinical psychologists Jerome Singer and Michael Barrios decided to find out the causes of writer’s block. Based on their research, there are four broad causes:
- Self-criticism of a writer’s own works
- The fear of comparison to other great writers
- Lack of external motivation such as praise from family and friends
- Lack of internal motivation, like the desire to write and tell a story
Basically, writer’s block is caused by various feelings of discontent. If you’ve been feeling this way for quite some time now, don’t worry because it can be undone. After all, writers begin with a sense of excitement and purpose. We just need to get those feelings back. To do so, follow our tips below.
1. Write, Write and Write!
Stop worrying over writing the wrong thing. The key to combat writer’s block is to start writing. Write about anything that comes to your mind. The important thing is for you to start writing. We call this technique freewriting.
When you free-write, you may jot down ideas that are irrelevant to your current project. And that’s okay! The goal of freewriting is for you to write without regard for grammar, spelling, or topic. Free your mind from any doubt or second-guess. Enjoy what you do and express yourself through words.
For you to get started, start by picking a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. It can be in your room, the library, or the café. Next, prepare your writing materials. Will you use a computer, or opt for a pen and paper? Lastly, set a time limit.
How about if you have thought of an idea for a story but are having a difficult time starting it? Usually, the beginnings are the hardest part to write about because of the immense pressure to get everything right straight away. However, when you are freewriting, you can start wherever you feel like. Start in the middle or even the end. By the time you return to the beginning, you’ve already warmed up!
2. Read Any Book That You Want
Reading is a helpful way to tickle your mind and get your creative juices pumping. The world of literature is a vast realm where you can find inspiration for your writing. The exciting tales of Harry Potter or Sherlock Holmes can inspire you to start writing your own novel. They may even spark an idea that you can use for your own literary piece. Of course, don’t plagiarize. There’s nothing wrong with citing another author’s work, just don’t forget to credit them.
To get information from a book, you need to be an active reader. This means you absorb the information presented in the book and relate it to your situation. Inspiration can take many forms. You may be inspired by a direct quote from an author, a strong character, or the ending of a novel. Another one is an idea or opinion from an article. No matter what idea you gain from the book, the important thing is for you to enjoy yourself.
3. Write A Letter to Your Audience or to Yourself
Write a letter to your audience or to yourself when you’re having a hard time transforming your thoughts into words. Doing so helps you express what is on your mind. Writing to your audience lets them know what you’d like to say. It also helps you unearth the driving force behind your writing. You can discover your purpose for writing or why you love to write. Once you are able to find your purpose, it gets you excited and energized to do what you love the most. You may even be buzzing with ideas by the time you finish the letter, so do start writing it!
4. Start Exercising!
Get your body moving! Step away from your computer and do something to get your blood flowing. Whether it’s taking a quick walk or running, exercise helps in sparking your creativity. Based on a study by Stanford University, walking helps in increasing the participants’ divergent thinking — the thought process that helps generate new ideas. A walk in the park is great, especially if you are having a hard time thinking of an idea.
Aside from walking, going for a run helps in boosting brain activity. Many studies have confirmed that aerobic activity releases endorphins and helps memory and cognition. So, if you need a break from writing or you need to think about new ideas, go for a walk or a run.
5. Distractions Are a Big No!
We’re surrounded by distractions in our day-to-day lives. These can be noises from your next-door neighbor, the constant ringing of your Facebook notifications bell, or your messy room. Whatever it is, you need to rid yourself of any distractions when you write. To do so, you need to look for a quiet and clean place to write. Try organizing your desk, cleaning your room or office, and adding a bamboo-scented diffuser. You can even play soft relaxing music as you write and inform your family that you are not to be disturbed.
6. Be Creative!
Do something creative for the day. Whether it is painting, making origami, singing, or taking photographs, do anything that sparks your creative mind! You can even have your friends over and create different artworks with you. These activities help fuel your mind and get you thinking of new ideas.
7. Engage in Creative Writing Exercises
If you want to improve a skill, you need to practice. Writing is no different! So, if you’re suffering from writer’s block, get your pen and paper and do some writing exercises. These writing exercises can help you out because you can freely transform your thoughts into words without doubt clouding your mind.
Also try creating mind maps, drawings, and even lego structures to help unblock your mind. If you’re the kind of person who likes to outline by placing sticky notes on the wall, then do so. These writing and visual exercises can help you out, so do try them.
8. Communication Solves Almost Everything
Talk to your fellow writers. You may be shocked at how big the writing community is and how supportive they are. Join Facebook groups for writers and talk about your woes. They can give you tips on how you can combat writer’s block and give you words of encouragement. In this day and age, it’s never been easier to reach out and connect to other writers. It’s also easy to find the answer to your question.
Aside from talking to fellow writers, you can talk to your close friends and family. Visit a good friend and have a nice chat. You can meet at a nearby cafe or restaurant and eat your favorite meal. The hearty meal and conversation can bring back your passion for writing and spark an idea for your next work.
9. Music is Life
Music helps you get in the mood when you’re writing. Many writers turn on sad music whenever they write heartbreaking scenes or jazzy music for fun and soulful scenes. Studies have even shown that music has the power to improve your mood and productivity. So, think about what type of music you need when you’re writing an article or a novel.
10. Plan Your Writing Schedule
Author and artist Twyla Tharp once wrote:
Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits.
You may ask, shouldn’t writing be something that is naturally done, and not something you can force and schedule? Yes, writing should be free-flowing and natural. However, if you only write when you “feel creative,” there’s a higher chance that you’ll end up with writer’s block.
Many famous writers stick to a writing routine that they have developed over the years. This allows their mind and body to get used to writing at a certain time and day. If you don’t stick to a routine, you may have trouble penning the words down after a number of days of not writing. The solution to writer’s block is to write regularly at a certain time of the day. You can write in the morning when you wake up or at a certain time in the afternoon. Whatever it is, make sure to stick to it!
Writer’s block is a challenge for all writers. It can stem from self-doubting your writing abilities or a lack of appreciation by readers. However, you must not let these challenges affect your desire to write and tell a story. Follow these writing tips and rid yourself of the need to write every sentence flawlessly. Rediscover your reason for writing and ignite the spark that inspired you to begin. The road to getting your published or acknowledged is not an easy path, but as long as you believe in yourself, you can withstand any hardship.