7 Foolproof Ways To Overcome Writer’s Block
So you’re suffering from writer’s block? Welcome to the writer’s life.
In the marathon of the written word, writers are the word runners. As such, there are long-distance runners or those who write at length and are great producers of exposés, dissertations or novels. At the other end of the playing field, is the short-distance writer, or sprinter, who finds his or her comfort zone in articles, passages, or short stories.
For the runners in either discipline, the goal is to cross the finish line with a composition worthy of a gold medal. Often, the only other competitor in the field is the author themselves. But occasionally, the writer comes face to face with the one opponent who can knock any writer off their game – writer’s block.
Upon researching this dreaded plight, one can uncover some suggestions that seem logical and effective, and moreover, have been tried, and are indeed true. After asking one creative, but snarky writer how she would deal with the writer’s block conundrum, she suggested doubling up on doses of brain food. Although, not an entirely useless suggestion, double doses of Omega-3 fatty acids won’t guarantee good acceleration off the writer’s starting block. So what will?
7 foolproof ways to overcome writer’s block:
1. Walk It Off
Exercise and particularly walking has helped many writers, including myself, to clear the cobwebs. Even the busiest city centers, or the most silent of open fields, are always dressed in inspiration. Walking at a quick pace will get the blood pumping and oxygen flowing—all good for brain power. A quick glance skyward may reward you with a cloud formation that stirs feelings of spirituality which were truant while you were sitting behind your computer at home.
After an energetic jaunt, the fear and anxiety of writer’s block won’t seem so daunting or impressive compared to the splendors of nature and life you just witnessed. Who knows? You may even be so inspired as to take up running!
2. Find a Psychological Boost
In the case of writer’s block, the more you dwell on it, the deeper the abyss will get. When feelings of self-doubt emerge, the more you lean into them, the worse they can pummel your creativity and leave you cowering in the corner. What is needed is a psychological boost to get over the hill once you’ve hit the writer’s wall.
Returning to a piece that won you acclaim and accolades often does wonders for the ego. Revisit a favorite piece that gave you the inimitable “Yes, I’m good!” self-affirmation.
Try to remember how you felt when you wrote that piece. What inspired you, and what were your prompts? Try to recreate the ambiance, if you can. Music, scented candles, and even photos can all be good muses.
3. Be Gentle With Yourself
Don’t forget to be gentle with yourself. You don’t need to beat yourself up more than the writer’s block is already attempting to do. In addition to those things which evoke moods, like a scented candle, a picture, or even a glass of wine, arm yourself with friends and conversation.
While being gentle with yourself, try to figure out what it is that’s holding you back. Maybe you’re not inspired. Search for inspiration from new sources — read, visit an art gallery, immerse yourself in something new. Maybe you’ve run out of fresh ideas. Try holding brainstorming session with friends and family. Or maybe, you’re stunted by your own fears. Conquer those common writer’s fears with this confidence building e-book. Once you identify your hurdle, it’s easier to overcome it.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a friend that you can trust with your life, or, analogously, your writing, confide in them. A true friend wants you to succeed, and will honestly and selflessly do all they can to ensure your success. In short, don’t suffer in silence.
Communicate! Not only can communication be the foundation for a good piece of writing, but it can also protect against the slings and arrows brought on by writer’s block.
5. Edit and Revise
Previously, I suggested that returning to pieces already written may offer another solution to the dried up well of creativity. Choose a piece you have written and were pleased with, and re-examine it. Would you change anything? Perhaps change a few words, or strike out entire portions that seemed appropriate or “good” at the time. Try giving the piece a fresh coat of paint to revitalize it.
Editing will get the creative juices flowing and give the writer back his/her power over words.
Freewriting is an exercise similar to stream-of-consciousness, but with the written word. The writer chooses a topic and writes non-stop, and without punctuation about the subject.
Nouns, verbs, adjectives and phrases that the writer has produced freely act as a buffet of ideas from which the writer can now pick and choose to create a piece. This exercise may be just what the writer needs to gain enough creative momentum to bolt from the block.
7. Listen to Some Music
This final suggestion carries personal meaning and success for me — music! At a very difficult point of my life, I not only suffered from writer’s block, but I no longer had the desire to write at all.
However, one dreary afternoon found me watching a commercial on TV. As hard as it may be to believe, I found the musical score of the commercial so beautiful and stirring, that I felt compelled to find out the name of the composition that was lifting my spirits so intensely.
After some investigation and research, I found the piece, “Divenire” by Ludovico Einaudi. This piece told my story in music! It also gave me hope of “becoming,” of shedding what I was, and becoming what I will be. Through cleansing tears of sadness and hope, I sat down and began to voraciously write what I believe to be my best piece of poetry to date!
The big lesson in overcoming writer’s block is to never take yourself out of the race. It takes years of training, discipline and a lot of tumbles and fumbles before one earns a medal. The lovely thing about writing is, you see the changes that honing your skills provides. You have been given a gift, a talent to be a contender in one of the most demanding, but nonetheless honorable and enviable disciplines. Don’t run away from that! If you hit your wall and have to do battle with writer’s block, take solace in knowing there are solutions out there — and one will be just the right fit for you to finish your race.
For a second opinion on finding your cure for writer’s block, Kelly Yaep offers up her 7 Easy Tips for beating the beast, here.
Have you experienced writer’s block? What are your tried-and-true ways for beating it?