Every writer knows how debilitating it feels to not be able to write! Writer’s block is not only frustrating but it can also make you question yourself as a writer. This article is meant to encourage my fellow writers to push through, continue with your creative process and keep writing! Many things hinder people’s progress and performance every day such as migraines and the flu for example. Eventually, the body works things out and everything gets back to the regularly scheduled program. Writing is no different.
What Is Writer’s Block?
Simply put, writer’s block is the inability to write. This phenomenon is usually associated with both literary writers as well as songwriters. The term “writer’s block” was originally presented in 1947 by a psychoanalyst by the name of Edmund Bergler. His intention was to figure out why the creative process has ceased and what if anything could be done about it.
Frustration can’t even describe the feeling when not even one word or no new creative ideas can be produced. This cloud could be over a writer for days, weeks, months, and unfortunately for some… even years. This could spell disaster especially if that writer is under a contract to produce work at a specific time so getting those creative juices back flowing is vital in order to get past that hump. It is also vital to keep your commitments and more important- your confidence.
Having this condition does not mean that the writer has developed an inability to now write. Nor does it mean the writer no longer has the want to write. Instead- it means that the writer has developed a creative shutdown. So, how do we get back on track and get ourselves unstuck?
To get unstuck- the first thing that must be done is to pinpoint the reason why writer’s block has plagued you as a writer in the first place. And just to keep everything in perspective- writer’s block is not prejudiced by any means. It has affected some very well-known writers over the course of many years.
Some of these writers include 20th-century American fiction writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, current-day songwriter Adele, and the famous Peanuts comic strip cartoonist- Charles M. Schulz, otherwise known as “Sparky”.
For obvious reasons, these writer’s overcame their afflictions and went on to create wonderful works of art. What though could have been some of the hurdles faced that made their work come to a screeching halt?
Things That Halts Writing
- Procrastination: Writing, just like any other job can be exhausting. Sometimes you just convince yourself by making excuses that you just don’t want or need to do it today. Procrastination is an ideal way to unintentionally bring on writer’s block. The longer you go without, or put off writing- the more you will lose focus on what you are writing about. Staying in character is an essential part of keeping the creative juices flowing.
- Fear: Depending on your level of writing, fear could play a part in your writer’s block. If you are a beginner, maybe you are questioning your potential and if you’re good enough. Maybe the competition of this field has scared you into a state of writer’s fuzz. And maybe, for the moment- you may have just become fearful of writing itself for whatever the reason.
- Distraction: This could possibly be the number one cause for writer’s block. When your mind begins to wander you have immediately taken yourself out of writer’s mode. Distractions can be anything from an unexpected phone call, social media, or a want to finish a level of Candy Crush that has been plaguing you for weeks.
- Perfectionism: As writers, we always want to be perfect and produce our best work. Now, in no way am I saying don’t do that. Instead, what I am suggesting is that we do not have to be a perfectionist step after step in the writing process. An example of this is, instead of editing after each page or chapter- hold off as long as possible. This will keep you going and keep you in your zone.
Back to Writing
The four reasons listed above are the main reasons why writers of all types suffer from the dreaded mental block of not being able to write. Luckily, there are a number of things that can get you back to writing!
One thing is for sure just as American novelists and short story writer Louis L’Amour said in his famous quote, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” The point? Just start back writing! How do we do that you ask?
Methods To Overcome Writer’s Block
- MEDITATE: Even if you have never meditated before, having a new routine is a good way to overcome this affliction. Meditation helps a lot of situations that affect people’s lives. Meditation will help clear the mind in a distraction-free, silent environment. The rhythmic breathing will help organize what is in your head to make it flow more easily to paper. Many writers have turned to meditation to kick writer’s block.
- EXERCISE: Nothing will get those creative juices flowing like some good ‘ole exercise. Whether it is walking, running, yoga, or pilates- getting your body moving and your blood flowing will help resolve your writer’s block.
- SET STRICT SCHEDULE: It is imperative to set a strict schedule that only allows for writing. This schedule should be long enough to allow yourself to get in a zone but also short enough so that you do not get frustrated from sitting too long. This schedule should be rid of all distractions that will cause your mind to wander off of its main task. Friends and family should be notified that unless it is an emergency, no phone calls should be made within the time frame for which you have set aside for writing.
- CHANGE ENVIRONMENT: Take a look at your current environment. Is it comfortable? Is there room to move around? Are there distractions in this space such as televisions, phones, an Alexa device? If so, you may want to consider changing your environment. Having a comfortable, roomy, and distraction-free environment will keep you focused and inspired to write therefore easing your writer’s block.
- READ: Whether it is inspiring quotes or a book that you have been wanting to read, reading will help generate new ideas and inspire you to write again. With those new ideas, you can now organize them as writing prompts and brainstorm around those ideas.
- HAVE SOME FUN: It is ok to just let go and have a good time. Writing requires a lot of discipline, dedication, and long days and nights. Truthfully, sometimes as writers we just hold on to tight and need to realize when to let go and live a little. Getting your mind off writing for a while will inadvertently create new creative ideas swirling around in your head.
- WRITE RIGHT NOW: There will not be a “perfect time” that you will get that “perfect idea” so do not hold off or make excuses to write. You will never overcome writer’s block if you go this route. But… if all of the mentioned tools are used, trust me, the pen will be back on that paper sooner rather than later.
Life After Writer’s Block
Now that you are back to writing, that does not mean that you will not be afflicted with this hindrance again. The same as a cashier can’t call their boss to let them know that they will not be showing up for work due to having a cash register block, a writer can’t use writer’s block as an excuse to keep them from doing their job either.
Using the tools in this article, along with the many other tools available online and elsewhere- find what works for you. Practice makes for a perfect situation so do not be afraid to play around with different methods and having a new routine. The key to overcoming writer’s block is to push through it and not stay stuck. Good luck and happy writing!