What Is Writer’s Block?
Is writer’s block a real thing? Julia Spicher Kasdorf, an expert in Creative Writing, says that writer’s block is real, much like any other form of anxiety. American education scholar, Mike Rose, describes the phenomenon as a situation in which writers face difficulties completing their work beyond a lack of basic skills and motivation.
How long can writer’s block last? This depends on the specific writer and is measured by their long-term inaction. You may have difficulty coming up with original ideas or you may not have produced anything for a while.
What causes writer’s block? There are various reasons why people feel dissatisfied with the creative process of writing. The following factors may play a role:
- A busy schedule
- Aim for perfection
- Impostor syndrome
- Absence of motivation, attention, and praise
- Absence of structure (no idea how to begin)
The key to overcoming writer’s block is to get back to that feeling of excitement and purpose. This article explores how to do just that.
How to Overcome Writer’s Block
You can overcome your writer’s block by following these guidelines.
1. Start With Easy Parts
Don’t fall into the trap of getting stuck with an idea that you can’t or don’t know how to develop further. Consider skipping over a section if writer’s block sets in at a certain point in your story. Write it backwards. Start with the ending. When writing blog posts, you can start from the parts you find the most exciting and continue with the ones you find hard to develop.
American journalist and author, Calvin “Cal” Fussman, for example, had to deal with writer’s block for 10 years. Writing the ending was the first thing he did because he felt it would tie the story together. Don’t get discouraged. Keep going!
2. Disconnect From Distractions
It’s inevitable that you’ll be distracted while writing. But you decide whether these distractions will prevent you from working. Here are a couple of ideas on how to stay focused:
- Turn off all media sources. When stuck, humans tend to seek an activity that will occupy their minds and distract them from work. So, before you start working, eliminate all distractions.
- Make a writing schedule. Let everyone know that, except in an emergency, you won’t be available. Don’t be afraid to say “no” and work during your writing hours.
If you lack the willpower or find it difficult to stay focused, use a site blocker like Freedom or download an app like Cold Turkey. The latter is a great method of getting over writer’s block since it transforms your computer into a typewriter until you reach your goal.
3. Change Your Scenery
Having a writing area is important, but sometimes a change of scenery is also necessary. This can help you overcome writer’s block.
If your profession allows you to work remotely, you may enjoy writing outside your office or home at a public library or other location. Take a walk in a park. Drop by a local cafe or library. Leave the work behind. Or write in another room if you aren’t able to go too far.
4. Take a Break
The words won’t flow if you force them. Clearly, you’ll need a break eventually. Finding your flow again can be difficult if you have not taken time to recharge, so step back and take some time to refresh yourself before starting again.
If you can, step away from your work for some time and come back to it with a clear head. For instance, go for a walk or watch a movie. A new experience may stimulate your brain, allowing you to be more imaginative. Take the time to make a meal, clean the house, or spend time with your pets. Put your story or blog post on hold for a while.
Even taking a nap may help you overcome writer’s block. Sometimes, inspiration will strike while you’re lying in bed. Whenever an idea strikes you, even at night, you should jot it down.
5. Create a Writing Routine
If you only write when you feel inspired, you’ll eventually hit the wall of writer’s block. You’ll need discipline to write consistently, even if your muse doesn’t show up. A writing schedule can help.
Make writing a regular habit. However, it’s not necessary to write every single day. Do it every other day, every Saturday, or on any other regular basis, depending on how much content your campaigns need. Consequently, this will help you quickly switch into a storytelling mode when needed.
6. Don’t Strive for Perfection First
Perfectionism is a common problem for bloggers and writers, which is especially debilitating during the first draft. Remember that you don’t have to be perfect. Consider separating the writing process from the editing process. You can edit the text later or even ask a second pair of eyes to review it. Until then, just put the words down.
Anne Lamott, an American novelist and non-fiction writer, encouraged her readers to write terrible first drafts in her book Bird by Bird. They must write a bad draft for a better draft to follow. Since no one but you and your coach need to read it, it doesn’t matter how awful it is.
7. Search for Inspiration
What is the fastest way to cure writer’s block? You can cure writer’s block by reading. Read what you like or find something new. You can even look at a few books for help on writer’s block to learn how to write better, get inspired, and pitch ideas.
You can also listen to music instead of reading. In addition to relaxing, music can inspire writers who are stuck. Look for playlists on YouTube and Spotify that assist with creative block. Create your own playlist, if needed.
It might be helpful to meditate, go for a walk, bathe, or use an app like Word Palette, which features a keyboard of random words that allow you to create text simply by clicking your way through it. You can use AI auto-completers like InterKit, where you can enter a few words and the app will guess the next words.
8. Change Your Writing Tool
If you’ve been typing on your word processor of choice, try switching to pen and paper. If you’re tired of Microsoft Word, use Google Docs. You can even write directly on WordPress. Alternatively, you can use writing programs like FocusWriter or Scrivener.
Even the smallest change could improve your productivity. Instead of Times New Roman, for instance, switch your font to Arial or Verdana, as they are more readable. If you find sans-serif fonts boring, you can try script fonts, change the font color, or increase the font size. There are little things you can do to make writing more interesting and eliminate writer’s block.
9. Try Creative Writing Exercises
By using writing exercises, you can focus on specific skills, such as voice, building tension, or character development. To get a better grasp of such skills, try some examples.
In addition, writing prompts will help you overcome writer’s block. You can start with a variety of prompts on Reddit and Writer’s Digest. Use words, colors, or phrases for inspiration. Writers can benefit from sites that provide tasks tailored to their writing styles. Random websites and resources are also helpful. The idea is to look outside of yourself rather than within. When your mind is clear, you’ll find the right words easily.
10. Unblock Your Mind With Visuals
If you can’t put something into words, get visual. This approach might help you visualize the problem. Make diagrams, use post-it notes, pen and paper, mind maps, sketches, Lego structures, or whatever else you can think of.
Alternatively, you can use Inkflow, a visual word processor that lets you doodle on ideas and move them around. If you like to outline using sticky notes on the wall, this app might be helpful for you.
11. Set a Deadline
Creating a content calendar is a great way to hold yourself accountable. With your year-long content calendar, you know what needs to be written and when it needs to be done. Do not allow yourself to miss these deadlines. Consider them as important as you would a deadline for a college paper and don’t make excuses.
Obviously, it’s difficult for some writers to do it on their own. In this case, it could be beneficial to find a writing partner and set deadlines together in a non-critical manner. Most writers feel more motivated when someone else expects a result. Another good way to get into a writing routine is to join a writing group or class.
12. Try the 30-Minute Challenge
Set the timer for 30 minutes and record everything that happened during the day. If you run out of time, record any distractions, such as thoughts, noises, or interruptions. Determine ways to minimize these distractions from your routine. Try writing entirely with a pencil and paper. Try the 30-minute challenge again the following day, using the techniques you learned the previous day to eliminate distractions. Continue until you have the perfect writing area.
In addition, you could create fun challenges. Challenge yourself to use a metaphor related to sports, movies, or cooking in your next post. Calculate how long your average blog post is and then attempt to write 20% fewer or 20% more words. Use alliteration, rhyme, onomatopoeia, or any other form of expression.
13. Read More on the Topic
There are times when writer’s block occurs because you don’t know enough about a subject. Annette Gordon-Reed, a law professor and historian, believes that tough writing indicates incomplete research. Prepare everything before you begin writing, she says.
To figure out what you’re supposed to do, Annette recommends going back into the archives or thinking a topic through. Consult a book or speak with an expert in the area. They can provide you with tips on how to approach the problem, as well as recommended resources.
14. Monitor Trending Topics
Trending content is another great place to find inspiration. When you are stuck or don’t know what to write about, you can use social media. Take some time to brainstorm. Ask questions, engage in dialogue, and absorb what others are saying. A good idea is sure to emerge.
In addition, you can check out these sources to see what’s trending online:
- Social media sites (Twitter, Reddit, Quora, Pinterest)
- Websites that cover trending topics (The New York Times, Google News, Science News, BBC, NBC News, etc.)
- BuzzSumo enables you to find engagement, content, and outreach opportunities across social networks and search engines
- Feedly is an application that aggregates news feeds online
- Google Trends is a website that analyzes the top search queries across various languages and regions
Turn Your Block Into an Asset
Is writer’s block normal? The problem is fairly common among writers, authors, copywriters, students, academics, creative professionals, and anyone who writes professionally. Luckily, you can accept it and turn it into a positive asset, as Jerry Jenkins does.
In order to meet his deadlines, Jerry determines how many pages he must write each day for a new novel when creating his writing calendar. After that, he plans out when he’ll procrastinate. If procrastination robs him of one of his writing days, he will have to adjust the number for each remaining day.
The trick to maximizing your productivity is keeping it under control. Manage your time with deadlines in mind and stick to a reasonable daily page count.
How to Overcome Writer’s Block
Writer’s block seems frustrating and paralyzing, but if you know how to handle it, you can overcome it. Use these strategies to recover:
- Rest when you need it
- Go outside and write
- Keep distractions at a minimum and follow the suggestions above