You probably know those days when you are so creative and have so many ideas that you cannot believe it. Writing is going so smooth and there is plenty of imagination to play with. But you probably know those blocked days when you cannot write any word too.
I have experienced both of them, of course. Being a writer is not only about sitting at a desk in a cafe and writing whatever crosses your mind. It is about writing what crosses your mind, but those drafts need to be edited and enriched so you need creativity and imagination. And what do you do when there is nothing that crosses your mind? What to do when there is nothing worth writing? Or when you simply can’t write?
What helped me overcome the writer’s block is the fact that I understood why does it happen. I have accepted that it is something that happens from time to time. And I did not think that it is an obstacle I cannot overcome.
So, What Is Writer’s Block?
Writer’s block is described as the inability of writing, no matter the topic. Writer’s block can mean that you are not able to write something new or to continue the writing. Shortly put, if you experience the writer’s block, you cannot write.
But, why does this happen? In 1970 the phenomenon draws attention and began to be studied by psychologists. Writers suffering from writer’s block were followed for a few months and helped researchers draw some conclusions. One of the main causes is the lack of feedback from the others, the lack of praise and appreciation. This can seriously affect one’s level of extrinsic motivation. There is also a lack of intrinsic motivation, meaning that you do not feel that you have a story to tell.
Besides a complete lack of motivation, another factor that can cause the writer’s block is self-criticism which most of the time is harsh. Some writers are more anxious than others, and so they fear being compared with other writers. It can be the lack of self-confidence that makes you think that you are not good enough when compared with others.
But all these obstacles can be overcome if you adopt these techniques. They saved me from a huge block, so for sure, they will be useful for you too.
Manage Your Expectations
When I experienced my first writer’s block, I was so frustrated. I have set high expectations for myself. I thought that being an experienced writer keeps you away from writer’s block. I was wrong. But what did I learn from those moments of anger and frustration directed at myself? That I had a lot of expectations and they made me so angry with myself.
The thing is, there is nothing wrong with your writing skills. Writer’s block is something many writers experience, but they have learned how to successfully handle the moment.
Be realistic and analyze the situation carefully and calmly. To overcome this obstacle, you need to set realistic expectations for yourself. You can set specific goals to follow to reach those expectations. But we should never forget that mistakes are human and self-compassion can make you relax and overcome the writer’s block.
No More Distractions
One solution to overcome the writer’s block is to eliminate all distractions. We live in an era where we are overloaded with a lot of information that can distract us. Checking your phone, your Facebook feed or your inbox is one of the most popular distractions.
To work this out you can install some browser extensions. You can set there what websites you do not want to access while writing and they will be blocked. Also, phones are a huge distraction nowadays, not only for writers but for everyone. Checking our phone is necessary, but not always. Set your phone on do not disturb or silent mode while writing. Create the perfect environment for concentration and writing.
You might think that creativity and imagination are natural-born qualities. You either have them or not. Yes, your life can be divided into creative and not-so-creative moments. But you cannot wait for those moments when the imagination and creativity are flourishing to write.
You need to develop a writing routine, maybe at least 10 minutes per day. Like this, you get used to writing even when you have not-so-good moments. And your brain gets used to it too. By establishing a writing routine, you also form the habit of writing.
Sometimes we cannot overcome the writer’s block by forcing us to write. And being angry and frustrated at yourself does not help either. Instead, you should relax and engage in an activity that is not about writing. When I find myself in these moments, I go to the cinema. Watching a movie makes me relax and not ruminate on my incapacity to write.
It is important to give yourself time and space to calm and find your inner balance. You can also go to a concert, a walk in the park or just socialize with your friends. Choose whatever makes you relax and calm. Keep in mind that the writer’s block is not an obstacle you cannot overcome. Instead, you need to gather all your positive resources to face the moment. Be kind to yourself, you only need some time to heal.
Whoever is a writer, for sure he reads. You cannot be a writer if you do not read books often. Reading is a piece of advice experts give to beginners. But reading is also helpful when you experience writer’s block. I usually choose a book by my favorite author, make my reading spot cozy and comfy and start reading. The thought that I am not able to write something just goes in the back of my head while I immerse myself in a new story.
As a writer you need to keep yourself in touch with new ideas and reading can help you. You can read whatever you want, from books to magazines and blog posts. You do not know when your imagination will start sparkling.
Take a Shower
Or not necessarily a shower, but do something on autopilot mode. It is said that the best ideas appear while you take a shower. And yes, we all know those inspiring and mind-blowing shower thoughts.
The main idea is that while you do an activity on autopilot like driving, eating, showering or walking, your mind is wandering. This way you will experience daydreaming, an activity that comes with new ideas.
Develop Your Characters
Every story has its own characters. There must be someone part of the action who makes the story developing. If you are struggling to write something about the action, maybe shifting attention will come with more inspiration. And so, you can start working on your characters. You do not have to write chapters about every character, but to write a draft that will guide you along the story.
For example, you can start by developing your characters’ motivation and profile. Some templates can help you build powerful and impressive characters. As a writer, you need to know your characters as they are your best friends. Even though you will not make huge descriptions of them, you have their profile, motivation, fears, and goals. And all this information can help you build a powerful story and to make your creativity flourish.
Do Some Writing Exercises
Whenever I find myself experiencing the writer’s block, I think about ways to overcome it. Depending on the situation, some might work and some may not. If there is nothing that works for you, you can try doing some exercises that stimulate your creativity.
They are specially built and designed for writers that experience blocks and can truly help you overcome them. For example, you can describe your ideal house. You can choose from basic exercises to more challenging ones, but for sure they will help you get back on track.
Listen to Music
Everyone has his favorite songs. Some remind us of childhood, while other of those high school crazy parties. Some remind us of our first trip outside the country or our first pet. Listening to music can evoke feelings long forgotten. Music can awake your senses and relive some moments from your past.
This means that you experience feelings different from anger and frustration or sadness. Your thoughts are not about why you cannot write, but about your memories. Listening to music while writing is also a good option, as it helps you soothe. It helps you focus better and concentrate on the task. Keep in mind that instrumental music is the best when writing or learning, as the lyrics might distract you.
Work on The Root of Your Writer’s Block
Sometimes writer’s block can appear in stressful situations or when you experience burnout. Sometimes it has a much deeper root that needs to be worked on. The thing is, you might manage to overcome this writer’s block with the tips above.
But when the root is deeper, there might be some stimuli that can make the writer’s block appear more often. You can ask yourself questions like “How am I feeling?” and “Why am I feeling this way?”. Dive deep into yourself and be realistic. Keep in mind that writing is about freedom and passion. And all problems have a solution, you only need to find it.
Writer’s block is something that all writers fear but, in the end, they will experience it once in a while. You can handle this suffering by listening to music and relaxing. Thinking only about the problem does not do any good. Instead, let your mind wander, do some exercises for creativity, manage your expectations and establish a writing routine.