Writer’s block occurs when you just can’t seem to figure out what to write regarding the topic you’ve been tasked with. All inspiration and expertise seem to have vanished and suddenly you feel as though you’re not so qualified to have a view or express yourself about the field you’ve been working in, though you’ve mastered it for the last few years. You hit a limit where thought, ideas, action and writing are concerned.
We’ve all been there at some point and it is a phenomenon which can easily lead you to panic, driving you deeper into an inert state.
Its a condition that can be averted as we train our minds to focus where, when and how we want. Its about directing your habits and learning what makes you tick to get your creative juices flowing. It is also closely linked with other bad habits you make struggle with such as procrastination and fear of failure. So writer’s block isn’t something you can eradicate merely on its own but requires a broad approach to how effective a worker and thinker you are and can be.
I’ll share what I’ve learned from my own experiences in dealing with writer’s block.
Start Writing Ahead of the Appointed Time
I’ve observed that I experience writer’s block whenever there is pressure to get work within an unreasonably short period of time. Either from the task being thrown on me out of nowhere or waiting until the last minute to get it done. The stress felt from the thought of time running out shuts everything down and I become less effective as the clock ticks on. My own anxiety murders my imagination and knowledge with a black screen painted in my mind and I somewhat panic.
This anxiety is alleviated by giving myself enough time to do my work comfortably. If the deadline given to complete an article is on the 5th day of the month, aim for the 4th instead. Give yourself room to comfortably brainstorm, collate your thoughts and get the work done. Even if you have difficulty coming up with a great article you’ll still have time to relax, explore and research before its crunch time. Overcoming procrastination, if you struggle with it, is an important first step to conquering writer’s block.
Give a Speech
People around you may think you’re crazy but this will kickstart your brain and get it bubbling with activity and ideas. Get out of your chair, pretend you’re having a conversation or giving a speech on whatever you need to write about. Most often, you will find that if you separate yourself from the notepad or computer screen, get away from the pressure and just start talking about your subject, it will open your mind. It works great if you can have a chat with someone you can relate your topic to. Or, pretend you are giving a speech or presentation in your most comfortable and confident state and visualize yourself really crushing it as an expert.
The words will begin to flow and your ideas and your way of expression will begin to shine. Once the fire is ignited, move back to your writing and let it pour out.
Exercise Your Imagination
There are many writing exercises, when done regularly, will help to keep your mind active and thoughts flowing. The brain / mind functions like a muscle, even though physically its a ball of spongy mush, and the more you exercise your and use it, the stronger your thought patterns, will and intentions become.
One particular exercise which works wonders for me in both writing and other forms of creative work, is spending 5 – 10 minutes each day drawing or doodling anything that comes to mind, then spending another 5 minutes writing a short story on what I drew. The act of putting your imagination to paper and bringing it to life rejuvenates and relaxes your mind and will bring a bit of fun to your day. It creates and secures new neurological connections which in turn enables you to think and express yourself more concisely and puts in practice the art of translating thought to paper.
Make this activity a fun part of your daily life.
It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect
Just start writing, it doesn’t have to be perfect at the beginning. Give your brain a chance to pour out your ideas like a river, writing as they come out. Ignore typos and grammatical errors for now. If you try to continuously correct as you write, you may force yourself into that mental block as you try to juggle your thoughts at the same time as you’re trying to make corrections.
Complete your masterpiece, then do the corrections last.
There are many methods for overcoming writer’s block, and will depend on your personal preferences or the conditions you struggle with. Most importantly, give yourself time to experiment, learn and identify the triggers that push you into that state and brings on the anxiety. When you’ve identified the culprit, gradually wean yourself from the habits or distractions.
Feel free to share with us in the comments below your own experiences with writer’s block and how you have overcome it.