Overcoming Writer’s Block
Writer’s block is a thing… it is a completely real thing that is not made up by writers (who for the most part do make up fiction). It occurs when every inch of creativity has seeped out of your body, or when there is a confusing statistical result which your brain can not wrap its neurons around, or when you have a complete mental blank on a word that you swear you have used so many times it is in the ‘most used’ section of your vocabulary. It can and will happen to anyone who writes anything (no matter the genre).
So here are my ten tips for getting through your writer’s block.
1) Have a trusty notebook- For a reason we may never understand, that sentence you have been stuck on since lunch time will magically structure itself just before you drift off to sleep, or as you are stopped in the car at the traffic lights. It is therefore essential that you keep a notebook with you at all times so you can quickly jot down the magic before it disappears again. Obviously if you are driving please pull off of the road before you write it down- safety first! You could also use the notepad on your phone if you are more tech savvy!
2) Shower- I am not sure why but so many of my best ideas have occurred when I am in the shower. I was stuck on how to word my PhD hypotheses for a whole week and then they appeared through the mist of the shower. As notebooks or phones do not go so well having a daily wash, you have to make sure you remember your perfect sentence and jot it down as soon as you can. If you are extremely stuck, have a bath instead! I do not condone sitting in the shower for 30 minutes (no matter how stuck you are, water is precious people!).
3) Move on- Because your brain will often start working at random times as I have already mentioned (shower, car etc.) it is not beneficial to sit at your desk staring at your computer trying to think of that perfect word. This is a waste of time and will also make you frustrated (which may result in you eating that entire ‘emergency’ block of chocolate). Instead write ‘ADD IN WORD’ and continue you on to the next sentence or paragraph and come back to a fill in the blanks later.
4) Read- In your spare time (I mean you have heaps of spare time don’t you?) pick up a book and read it. Reading is great for many, many reasons but in particular will help you with your own writing. You will find new words you haven’t seen before, new writing techniques and will be inspired to continue your own writing, so that you can became the next J.K. Rowling!
5) Trust your brain- Our brains are really, really impressive! So we need to trust that our brain can and will work through our writer’s block! Try to not stress too much as this will cloud your brain and make it take longer to work itself out. Just trust that your brain is smart enough to complete an amazing piece of writing.
6) Hand write– We are so used to typing that when we get a pen and paper out it can feel like we are using a quill and parchment. Maybe this adds to the charm of hand writing, which I believe is the perfect way to get your creativity juices flowing (i’m not sure how I feel about the word ‘creative juices’ but we will go with it). When i’m in the early stages of a piece of work I alternate between hand writing and typing and I think my work is better off for it.
7) Change scenery– Sometimes all you need is a new work space for a couple of hours. When you feel stuck and uncreative go and sit in a café and enjoy a hot drink. Even better pick a café that looks interesting with bright colours and unique deco. You will feel more energised for changing scenery and hopefully more creative. Depending on the weather you could also sit in the sun or in the park- being in nature will reduce your stress (which as I said before will mean your brain will work more productively).
8) Talk to others- Speaking out loud can bring a new clarity to your piece of writing. So talk to the people you share your work place with, or with your family or friends and ask them which word you should use or if the sentence makes sense. Everybody has their own knowledge and collaborating with others will only improve your work.
9) Sleep- The magic illusive s word. Sleep does wonders for our physical health, mental health, relationships, creativity and quality of life. Do not take sleep for granted (there are some people who are not able to fall asleep). Try to get your 8 hours (give or take depending on your body and age). Never underestimate the power of a good night sleep, you can go to bed feeling like you will never, ever, ever complete your work and then wake up with the plan for your entire piece sorted. Trust me sleep is important.
10) Give yourself time- Most of the nine other tips I have provided take time, so perhaps the greatest piece of advice I have is to give yourself as much time as possible. No matter how often you preach ‘I work better under the pressure of a deadline’, your work will be more polished if you give yourself time you to be able to overcome the writer’s block you are bound to face.
What are your writer’s block tips?