Writing can be a challenging and rewarding experience. Still, it can also be frustrating when writer's block sets in. Writer's block is a common condition that affects writers of all levels, from amateur bloggers to professional authors. It is a feeling of being stuck, uninspired, or unable to produce new ideas. It can be caused by various factors, including anxiety, lack of focus, and burnout. The good news is several strategies can help you overcome writer's block and get back to writing. Whether you're working on a novel, a blog post, or a research paper, these tips will help you break through the barriers holding you back and get your words flowing again.
Distractions are the #1 enemy for anyone trying to complete a task, and it applies to writing. They reduce your focus, interrupt your flow, or can prevent you from starting a project. If you're stuck, try minimizing distractions while you're writing. If you're in a noisy area, try to move to a quiet area if your circumstances permit you to do so. Try unplugging your electronics and cleaning your desk. A clean desk promotes a calm environment and improves focus. A clean area also represents a clear mind, and a clear mind allows more space for you to come up with ideas to write about.
Take a break
Sometimes the healthiest thing you can do for your writing is to just stop writing, temporarily, of course. When you force yourself to sit at your computer or desk all day, it doesn't help you as much as you think. Taking a break can give you the time to reset your brain and come back with a clearer mind and maybe some new ideas.
- Exercise: Our body produces endorphins generated by exercise, which gives us a lot of energy and translates to productivity. The point is our bodies and minds thrive on exercise. Writing isn't necessarily an activity that allows you to be the most physically active unless you count writing fiercely on paper or hunched over a computer as exercise. It's essential to be active when you can. Try bike riding, running, or Pilates while listening to music to clear your mind while moving around.
- Meditate: Meditation is one of the most common relaxation methods and a fantastic thing for writers. Meditation lets you keep your mind centered and focus on your work. If your mind feels like it's all over the place or you have so many ideas that you don't know what to do with them, just try meditating and focus on your breathing.
- Watch a show or movie: Just like life, writing can sometimes be just as stressful, and maybe you just want a break. You shouldn't take the time to binge-watch Stranger Things, but it wouldn't hurt to watch an episode or two to help take your mind off things. TV shows and movies were once just a thought in their creator's head that evolved into a compelling story. Watch these stories and maybe use them as an opportunity to gain some inspiration for your own writing.
- Read something: When you're not writing something, read. Reading helps expand your vocabulary, expose you to new writing styles, refills your creative juices, and allows you to support your fellow authors without exposing yourself to the pressures of writing.
- Eat or prepare something to eat: Trying to write on an empty stomach isn't fun. If you're hungry, take the time to step away from your work area and eat or cook something up. While eating, you can review what you might wanna write or let your taste buds do all the thinking and focus on eating until you're ready to write again.
Talk to someone
Staring at a blank page or screen isn't going to help your writing issues go away. One way to break out of this cycle is to talk to a friend or family member about what you're going through. Talking can be the most therapeutic thing for anyone struggling to get their thoughts and ideas out there. Once you talk to someone, the ideas and words will flow easily because you're not trying too hard to come up with something. Who knows? Maybe you'll stumble upon a great idea you can write about, but just make sure to write it down if it pops up so you don't forget it later.
Switch up your environment
After a while, staying in one area can make you feel stuck, making it hard for you to write something, and it's normal. The lack of excitement makes our brains lazy, making us more prone to feeling unmotivated and unable to complete tasks like usual. Try walking to a coffee shop or place that makes you happy. Sometimes it takes looking at a new environment to gain a new perspective on situations that you've never looked at differently before. A change of scenery can do anyone, especially a writer, some good if you want to find new ideas and kickstart your creative output.
Try the Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method based on 25 consecutive minutes of focused work broken down into 5-minute breaks. Taking longer breaks, such as 15 to 30 minutes, is usually after completing 4 work intervals. Each work interval is called a Pomodoro, after the Italian word tomato.
"The appearance of so many internal interruptions is our mind's way of sending us a message: We are not at ease with what we are doing. This may be because the prospect of failing worries us—it can be scary. Or maybe our goal seems too complex, or we feel we are running out of time. To protect us, our minds come up with different, more reassuring activities. We end up favoring interruptions wherever we can latch on to them."
- Francesco Cirillo
By trying the Pomodoro technique, you force yourself to sit down and write for 25 minutes without breaks (including checking your phone or other related devices). You power through and get something down on the paper, then take a much-deserved break after 25 minutes. You can download productivity apps/websites such as Freedom, BlockSite, StayFocusd, AppBlock, Flipd, and Engross to block any distractions on your phone like social media, emails, and other unnecessary distractions apps. The Pomodoro technique has many benefits for writers because it allows you to break down a larger project more efficiently while rewarding yourself for your hard work, so you don't lose motivation. Incorporating the Pomodoro technique into your daily routine can help you improve your writing skills and stay focused. Each break allows you to clear your mind and look over your writing with a new head to properly edit your writing.
Try Creative Writing exercise
It may seem ironic to try writing, considering you've come here to solve your writer's block. However, a creative writing exercise, specifically free writing, is a great way to loosen up and get those creative juices flowing. The purpose of free writing is when you sit down and write without stopping for a certain amount of time or until you reach your desired word count. Free writing allows you to write anything you want without judgment and write as much as you want. It can take going through a couple of "bad" drafts and digging through the dirt until you find your gem of an idea. It happens to even the best writers, so coming into this exercise with an open mind is essential. Here is a list of other similar exercises that can help stimulate your mind to get you writing again:
- Edit someone else's writing.
- Revise the oldest story of yours you can find.
- Write a short story.
- Write a letter to your younger self.
- Write a stream-of-consciousness page.
- Work with different points of view.
Writer's block may feel like a giant roadblock, but with a bit of creativity and determination, it can be conquered and vanquished. Don't let it defeat you. Instead, treat it as a temporary obstacle that can be overcome by trying different approaches. Remember, writing is a journey and not a destination. Some days, it will be a smooth ride, and other days it will be bumpy. But with a bit of flexibility and a willingness to experiment, you can find your way through the fog of writer's block and emerge victorious. So, put on your writer's cap and let your imagination take you on a wild ride. Who knows where it will take you?