5 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Our creativity is never really appreciated until its taps run dry. And when we’re struck with the feeling of emptiness, a creeping devastation takes over until we’ve come full stop into a rut from which we see no imminent escape.
We hope to God that it’s a just a quick phase, and one that will quickly resolve itself as soon as family matters, life events, or stress runs its course. Sometimes we know why we’re stuck. Other times it hits us for no reason. No matter the situation, real writer’s block can feel painful and debilitating.
There’s a lot to be said about wanting to write but being unable to. Some people don’t believe writer’s block exists. The mere mention of it, as if it really is some communicable disease, can be enough to make people stumble into a rut of their making—a self-fulling prophecy, if you will. But there’s no denying that not being able to write, even when it’s the only thing you ever want to do, is excruciating. So, here are some tips for getting your juices flowing again:
#1: Dig Deeper
Are you having a hard time concentrating? Do you find yourself distracted by family issues, stress, your job? If there’s a lot going on in your life, it’s no wonder you have a hard time writing. In order to thrive creatively, we need mental headspace. If there’s too much occupying your limited supply, your work will suffer.
Find ways to mitigate the stress in your life. Or, if there are a lot of positive things happening right now, enjoy them. Return to your work after the dust settles, and if you’re still having a hard time concentrating, it might be time to seek professional help. At that point, writer’s block might only be a symptom of a more serious issue.
#2: Take a Long Walk…Alone
There is no greater sense of peace than taking an aimless walk in nature by yourself. Leave the phone, slap on a pair of walking shoes, and just start moving. Walk a different way than you normally take. Try to find scenes of nature. Wander onto a woody path and let it take you somewhere you’ve never been. Reconnecting with nature is reconnecting with yourself. Even if you consider yourself a city person, your link to nature is innate. Breathing in the fresh air and putting one foot in front of the other is like food for your imagination. You can’t imagine where your thoughts will take you on this short journey.
#3: Read a Book from Your Favourite Author
Many writers are guilty of spending all their free time writing and very little time actually reading. However, if you want to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. Schedule at least a half an hour of reading every day. If you’re feeling dried up of creativity, sitting down with a hot drink and a good book can do wonders. Don’t worry that you’ll inadvertently steal ideas or get jealous of the writer’s talent. Just enjoy the book. Be a reader. Creativity breeds creativity. It will keep your mental juices flowing.
#4: Leave that Page Alone
If there’s a certain part of your story, thesis, or screenplay that’s acting as a full-blown roadblock, move on. Think of this section of your story as a wall that you literally can’t get through at the moment. The only way to go past it is to go around it (or under it, or over it, whatever). Start writing another part of your story. If you already know how it’s going to end, try writing that first and find out how the two ends can naturally meet. If you have absolutely no idea where to go from your stuck position, try going back to the fork in the road when your characters could have done or said something different.
If you’re in full-blown blockage mode and you have no idea how you got there and no idea how to fix it, write something else. Something else completely. It doesn’t have to be the start of a new thesis topic or short story. It could be a conversation between two characters. It could be a monologue inspired by the angry woman on the phone next to you on the bus this morning. I do suggest eventually going back to the scene of the crime, i.e., the part in your work where you started to slow down. But for now, it’s all about finding ways to make sure you keep writing no matter what it is (which leads me to my next point).
#5: Just Start Writing
Sometimes the best solution seems like the least helpful. Obviously, if you could write, you wouldn’t need to be doing these exercises right now. But when I’m talking about is more of a stretching exercise for your brain. Take three crisp, white sheets of printer paper or open a new notebook, take a pen (not a pencil), and just start writing about anything. Don’t know where to start? Write, “I don’t know where to start.” You could write the same sentence over and over again until you fill up three whole pages of “I don’t know where to start.” Do this every day. Don’t stop doing it. Don’t think about punctuation, grammar. Don’t erase your words. Don’t read what you write. Write about anything.
More about this tactic, and the science behind it, can be found in the international best-selling book, The Artist’s Way. The author, Julia Cameron, has helped millions of struggling creatives tap into their creativity like no other self-help book has ever done. I strongly suggest you read her book and follow her exercises.
I know first-hand what it takes to overcome writer’s block.
I’m pleased to offer my coaching services to help you stay on track of your writing goals and to stay motivated. Most importantly, I can show you how to defeat writer’s block for good through careful outlining, helpful writing exercises, and discipline. Contact me today for more information regarding my coaching or editing services.