Have you ever found yourself gazing at your writing pad for a long time, completely blank and trying to pen things down, but the right words seem nowhere within reach and you begin to find it incredibly difficult to incorporate your thought process into a fine piece of writing just like you’ve always done?
Don’t worry, your brain is perfectly fine and you’re not about to have a seizure.
Let me tell you a little secret: you’re not alone. You’re simply experiencing writer’s block, and all writers struggle with it at some point no matter how skilled and talented they are.
You may wonder what writer’s block is.
Writer’s block is a phenomenon that’s peculiar to writers. It’s simply an overwhelming feeling of being stuck in the writing process and unable to make progress or write anything new.
Overcoming writer’s block can be a little tricky because what works for Tom may not work for Harry; therefore, the process also varies depending on the individual.
Writer’s block is triggered by a number of things depending on the individual involved. Don’t be tempted to believe that writer’s block stems from a lack of ideas or talent because that is usually not the case.
Some common reasons you’re experiencing a block include, but are not limited to, the following:
It just may not be the right time to write. Your ideas may need a little more time to come together before writing them down. Be patient with yourself and your beautiful ideas.
Many writers are afraid of criticism, so they struggle with the fear of putting themselves and their ideas out there for everyone to see and critique. The truth is, fear has robbed many potential writers of the chance of becoming writers.
A perfectionist has excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations, and as such would want everything to be just right before putting them in writing.
So, because it hardly ever comes together perfectly in their head, they never begin.
How to overcome writer’s block
The following steps will help you loosen the creative block.
Take a break
Do something entirely different and come back later to look at your work with a fresh eye. You could go for a walk, change your environment, spend time with someone who makes you happy, read a book or just do anything that gives you ample time to rejuvenate.
You can scramble smaller pieces of the article, story or writing (drafts). Don’t try to make them fit into each other at the moment. The most important thing is to keep going. A lot of problems are resolved in the process of writing. Also, avoid areas of high difficulty.
You can now rewrite the first draft, use that liberty to get things down and then come back to it. Pretend you’ve never read your work before. Start at the beginning of the work and read it through. This can help you spot areas where you’ve gone off track.
Schedule a deadline for yourself
This is a goldmine but a lot of people don’t know it. Time pressure can elicit focus, compel you to make decisions and help you avoid procrastination.
Make your process more visual
If you are uncertain of how to continue a chapter or a section of your writing, turn to diagrams, post-it notes or just plain pen and paper. Sometimes, visualising the problem can help.
Try something completely mundane
Monotonous tasks like washing and cleaning can make your brain go on autopilot, allowing the creative side some freedom to daydream, which may include how to solve the problem that is causing your writer’s block.
This is good advice for all writers. Write without pausing to worry about sentence structure, grammar, spelling, or whether what you are writing makes sense or not. Just write without second-guessing anything. While most of it will not be usable, it is a good way to push through the block.
Try writing exercises
Writing exercises are also helpful in loosening writer’s block. Here are exercises that can help you get back on track.
Make up your mind on what you would like to write. It can be a scene, a chapter of your novel, or a page of free writing that will help stimulate an idea. Set a timer for thirty minutes or more, then start writing without stopping until the timer rings. Finally, take a five-minute break and repeat these steps, sticking carefully to the clock.
The thirty-minute challenge
This technique will help you spot and eliminate distractions that you usually encounter while writing.
First, set a timer for thirty minutes and write down the events of your day. When the time elapses, take note of what distracted you while you were writing, whether it’s your thoughts, noises or random interruptions.
Explore ways to selectively remove those distractions from your writing routine. For instance, if writing on your phone or computer distracts you, try using a pen and pad instead.
Repeat this technique a day later and employ the ways you researched to remove the distractions you learned the previous day. Repeat the process until you’ve found your ideal writing space.
The pretend-you’re-talking-to-a-friend technique
In this technique, you pretend to be speaking to a friend, relating to them the story or scene you’re working on. How would you describe it to them?
As you talk, gesture and describe these things, pen them down and if you find them useful, include them in your draft.
One thing you should know is that overcoming writer’s block is a delicate process that depends on each individual. But in the end, it is about defeating self-doubt and knowing that the hard work put in will pay off in the long run.
You can do this. Just write.