It’s common for writers to experience writer's block: you want to write; you have every intention of writing, and yet, when you sit down, you feel blocked. The words don’t come. You waste time. You stare at the blank screen. You write then hit delete. You think something is wrong with you. You get discouraged.
Having now worked with thousands of writers, and from my own personal experience, I know how frustrating it can be when you are faced with blank screens or blank pieces of paper without knowing what to write. Writer’s block can feel overwhelming, and sometimes it feels like you will never be able to complete your writing project.
The secret to overcoming writer’s block?
First: don’t be scared by it. Everyone experiences it sometimes.
Second: don’t let it stop you. Get out of your own way and just write. Write anything and everything that comes to your mind, even if it’s not related to what you’re working on. The goal is to get the creative juices flowing so you can start producing quality content again.
One of the keys to overcoming writer’s blocks is understanding it and having a strategy to work around it. So if you’re experiencing writer's block, keep reading!
What causes writer's block?
Everyone experiences writer's block differently.
There are many different causes and manifestations of writer's block. For some people, you might not be sure what to write about or exactly what you want to say. For others, writer's block may be caused by anxiety or stress. For others, it can be a fear of judgment and perfectionism that creates writer’s block. For many, it’s a combination of many factors.
Most of the time, there is some wisdom in the writer’s block–our resistance often has something to teach us. But usually, it’s not what we think it is. So don’t believe everything your mind is telling you when you experience writer’s block–if your internal voices are telling you to stop or you’re not good enough, instead of taking them at face value, get curious and look for work arounds.
Writer’s block can be an opportunity to heal false beliefs and blockages and to come into more authentic flow and voice. We just need strategie.
So don’t give up hope! You’re not alone, and with the right mindset, you can move beyond it.
What are examples of writer's block?
Even professional writers can experience writer's block. Some people may find it difficult to start writing, while others may have difficulty continuing or finishing a project.
Here are some common examples of writer's block:
- You can't think of anything to write about.
- You're not sure where to start.
- You keep getting stuck.
- You feel like you're not writing well or you’re a bad writer.
- You're worried about what other people will think of your writing.
- You're afraid you won't be able to finish your project.
However, writer's block is not a permanent condition.
Let's explore some of the ways you can overcome it and get your writing project done.
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How do you get through writer's block?
There are a number of different techniques you can use to get through writer's block. Here are some of the most effective:
Take a walk/ move your body
Sometimes when you're feeling stuck, you need to move your body to get your energy flowing again. Walking can help clear your head. Often, we get stuck in our head when we write, but our writing comes not only from our head, but from our whole person. Move, do some yoga, even jump up and down. Shift things up. When you're ready to sit down and write again, you'll be refreshed and more creative.
Read other people's work
Most writers find it helpful to read other people's work. Read as a writer. Read what inspires you and what you love and take that as a model (but be careful not to judge your writing in comparison to others’ and to fall into the trap of perfectionism.) Reading can help jumpstart your own writing. When you read, you're exposed to different styles and voices that can inspire your own writing. It can also help you see your own work in a new light.
Write in a different format
If you're struggling to write in a traditional format, try something new. Write in a journal, create a mind map, or make a list. This can help you get your ideas down on paper in a different way. Trust the “shitty first draft.” Don’t expect your piece to come out fully formed. Write bullet points, write an outline. Shake things up. If you need to write an essay, try to get your ideas in a poem–or vice versa. When you’re clear on what you want to say, it will be easier to put it into its final form.
Meditation can help clear your mind, reduce stress, get out from under your own inner critic, and give you more spaciousness . This can be helpful if anxiety is what's causing your writer's block or if you just need a little extra inspiration.
Get Clear on Your Schedule
People often procrastinate and/ or take too long with their writing, both of which can cause writer’s block.
If you don’t have a clear schedule for when you’re writing and when you are NOT writing, your writing can seem overwhelming.
Look at your calendar. Schedule a writing date for yourself, and show up for it. If you’re experiencing writer’s block, make a short date with yourself: just 30 minutes.
Then set the timer and write. Don’t stop writing. Just put everything you can possibly put on the page down.
There is a zen saying: “when you chop wood, chop wood. When you carry water, carry water.” If you’re experiencing writer’s block, when you’re writing, write. When you’re not writing, don’t write.
Those times when you’re NOT writing are as important as the times you are. Taking a break can help you come back to the material with fresh eyes.
Freewriting is when you write continuously for a set period of time without stopping (usually 10 to 20 minutes). The goal is to keep writing, even if what you’re writing doesn’t make sense.
Once the timer goes off, you can read over what you’ve written and see if there are any ideas that you want to develop further.
Don't worry about grammar or style, just get the words down on paper. This can help you to get your ideas flowing and may eventually lead to overcoming writer’s block.
Do something completely unrelated to your project
Writer's block is a common problem for writers of all levels of experience and sometimes the best way to get unstuck is to do something completely unrelated to your project.
Some people find it helpful to take a break from writing and do something creative, like painting or gardening. This can help you come back to your project with fresh eyes and full of inspiration. Just the way our bodies work better after a good night’s sleep, our minds work better after a rest.
Talk to someone about your project
When you're feeling blocked, it can help to talk to someone about your project. This can be a friend, family member, writing partner, or even a professional writing coach.
Often we get hung up on the writing itself, but most of us don’t have “speaking blocks.”
When we write, we’re using the same medium we use when we talk. So talk your ideas through. Maybe the problem is that you’re not clear on what you want to say. Talking it through can be helpful.
You can even take out your phone and record a voice memo or record into a dictation program. You can even talk while you’re walking. Talking through your ideas can help you to get unstuck and start writing again.
Sometimes the quickest way to get out of writer's block is to simply start writing. But you can also try a different format: draw a picture, write down a stream of consciousness. The goal is to get the ideas flowing in any form and get excited about your project again.
Start with a writing prompt
A writing prompt is a topic or scenario that you can use to jumpstart your writing. This can be anything from a word or phrase to a question or situation.
Writing prompts can be helpful after meditation, yoga, or any other form of movement.
Listen to music
Music can help you focus and get into a creative mindset. It can also be helpful in setting the mood for your writing.
Put on your favorite music and take time to listen to it. Take a moment to consider how the song makes you feel, what the lyrics remind you of, and what kind of story would be suited to this song. Doing this can help jumpstart your creativity and get your writer's block moving.
Improve Your Workspace
Make sure you have everything you need to write in a comfortable and distraction-free environment. This can help you focus and be more productive.
If you don't have a dedicated workspace, try setting up a temporary one in a quiet area of your home.
Write in a different location
If you're used to writing in your office or at home, try writing in a different location. Head to a coffee shop or another public place and try writing there. This can help you get out of your usual routine and see your project in a new light.
One of the main reasons for experiencing writer's block is feeling overwhelmed by the writing process. By getting organized and breaking the project down into smaller tasks, you can make progress and overcome writer's block
Take time to write when you're most creative
Pay attention to when you're most creative and try to write during that time. This can help you make the most of your creative energy.
For many people, the morning is the most productive time of day. But if you're a night owl, working in the evening may be more effective for you.
Now that you know some of the ways to overcome writer's block, it's time to get started on your project and feel creative again! Remember, the more you write, the easier it will become.
So don't give up, overcoming writer's block is all about getting out of your own head and just writing. Many writers struggle with it and I assure you that the “Ah-Ha!” moment will come to you and your creative work will thrive because of it.
I always love to hear from you. What worked for you? What strategies did you use?
Let me know in the comments below!
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