Every writer, regardless of if you’re a blogger, screenwriter, or an experienced author, is very likely to have overcome a case of writer’s block.
I’ll bet that since you’re reading this, you’re either facing this problem right now, have faced it at some time in the recent past, or know someone who’s experiencing a case of writer’s block right now.
Well, there’s good news for you (or your loved one). It’s not contagious nor a terminal illness. Okay, that’s a cheap jab to try to lift your spirits. But, I promise you that when you finish reading this all the way to the end, you’ll have exactly what you need to get you over your block (be sure to leave me a comment below to tell me how I’ve helped you or how I might be able to help you).
Writer’s Block Causes
Let’s start with looking at the causes before we go into the cures.
Putting your thoughts down on the page when you know that everyone will see your work can cause a bit of anxiety. You might feel like you’re wearing your heart on your sleeve.
I’m here to tell you that this is okay. As a writer, you’re supposed to put yourself out there for everyone to see. Otherwise, what sense does it make to write for a living? And, no… I’m not suggesting that you only write and never publish. You likely have a unique gift that would be selfish if you didn’t share it with the world. So, swallow your fear and allow yourself to not care what criticism other’s may have about your writing. It’s time to write and then go publish.
- Ideas may need time to come together
Have you ever had a seemingly great idea but then figured out later that it just needed a little more time in the oven? This is actually a big cause of writer’s block, second only to feelings of vulnerability and fear. The time to write may not be right now.
- The need for Perfection
Let me tell you right now… perfection is a myth that will only keep you from taking action towards your dreams and goals. If you’re always striving to get things perfect, then you’re also letting your fears creep in and likely not getting anything done.
Writer’s Block Cures
Yes, I’ve suffered from writer’s block on numerous occasions. So, you are NOT alone. The key is to not let it become your focus and realize it is only temporary. Here are some exercises that you can use to get over your case of writer’s block:
This is an exercise that can unlock ideas and get the creative juices flowing. It’s simply where you just stop focusing on the topic at hand and just write down anything that comes to mind without even thinking about where the writing is going to take you. Just write. Even if it is some random and strange idea that just pops into your mind, write it down. It doesn’t matter if that idea is describing a weird scene that comes to mind (kittens with rhino horns roaming in flower fields of molten lava?!?), write it down.
2. Reading motivational and inspirational material
What better way is there to get ideas than to read other people’s work? After all, you know you want to be supportive of your peers. Right? Well, it’s been said that there are very few original ideas (at least in the personal development world). However, there are new ways of explaining concepts that have been time-tested. But, that’s another story for a future blog post.
The point is that you can draw inspiration from many different sources. If someone was inspired to write something inspirational, then is it not a far stretch that you could be inspired by what they were inspired to write? Personally, I don’t think so.
I mean, even writing about ways to overcome writer’s block is still writing. Isn’t it?
The key here is to just write. Don’t wait until you feel inspired to do it. The one surefire way to overcome writer’s block is to just write.
Playing, be it a game with your kids (presuming you have kids. If you don’t, you can always “borrow” kids in your family.) or playing a musical instrument, can be a way to get your mind off of whatever block you may think you have. All too often, in the course of conversation with kids (because you know they can say some of the funniest things), ideas can form. Just being around creative people who have yet to form any filters on how the world should be has a habit of being the muse you’re looking for.
Yes, your doctor will be a happy person (especially if you’re the type who normally sits for hours at a time (I mean, how else are you going to write?)). Even just going out for a run can jog the creative juices again (bad pun, I know). While I’m no doctor, my guess is that when you get your heart rate up, you’ll increase blood flow to the brain (as well as other parts of the body) which will increase oxygenation.
Apart from getting yourself into a better body, you’ll also probably get an idea or two for whatever writing project you’re working on.
5. Write Anyway
Look, you’re a writer. You almost always write first and second drafts. Don’t you?
Why should this be any different? Even if you write something that you think nobody wants to read, at best it will be a bad first draft. And, we both know that those are very rarely noteworthy or publish ready. Don’t we?
If you grew up with parents that were anything like mine, you were likely to hear things like “do it right the first time.” Well, guess what? That is a surefire path to perfectionism, which almost always leads to nothing getting done because you’re always tweaking and perfecting. Yeah, it’s another name for procrastination.
You have to realize that writing isn’t like that. You will make mistakes. You’ll have 2nd or 3rd revisions. Just thank whatever God you worship (if you have one) that we don’t still live in the days of handwritten notes and that we have computers now. I know I’m grateful for the fact that when I mess up, I just go to that part of the sentence and make a correction with a few keystrokes.
It doesn’t matter if you’re telling a fictional story or if you’re putting together a documentary piece, writer’s block can be the bane of every writer’s existence. The key to overcoming is not to wait until inspiration strikes, but to just keep writing. Before you know it, you’ll be back on task and ideas will be flowing like water over Niagra Falls.