Every writer knows and fears it: writer’s block. One of the most dreaded demons of writing, writer’s block can hit anyone at anytime, and it will leave when it’s good and ready. Like an unwelcome house guest, it may not listen when you tell it to leave, but fortunately there are some things you can do that might just convince it that it’s time to go. Whether you’ve had time to prepare or were hit out of the blue, you’re never completely at its mercy.
They say an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, and it’s also true for writer’s block. Before you begin to write, make sure you’re interested in your subject — it’s hard to write when you just don’t care. It might be tempting to write about whatever the latest fad it, but if you aren’t genuinely interested, it’s going to be that much more difficult to write about, and it will show in the end. When you’re fascinated by your topic, you won’t burn out as quickly as you will if you feel like it’s a chore.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts to prevent it, writer’s block will still get to you. Maybe you’re bored with writing, maybe you need new stimulation, or maybe life’s just getting you down and you need a break. For the times when you would rather ram your head into a wall for an hour than stare at a blank sheet of paper for another minute, try some of these:
– Read. Pick up a newspaper, dust off that old favourite, or pick up that new page-turner you’ve been dying to devote some time to. It’s nice to be able to sit back and enjoy the scenery than to be the one navigating for once. Who knows, you might even stumble across some inspiration along the way.
– Relax. Do something that helps you unwind and come back to your writing feeling refreshed. Whether you decide to take a hot bath, go for a walk, read a book, watch a movie, or go out with friends — anything that helps ease tension.
– Look around you. Do you usually write in the same area? Is that area dull and bland? Try switching things up — write outside or in a different room, or if you’re bound to a desktop computer, add something like a vase of flowers to brighten things up a bit. When your surroundings aren’t interesting enough, you might feel bored even when you’re doing something that you would normally enjoy.
– Hunt for inspiration. Whether you find inspiration in books, movies, music, nature, art, or anything else, take some time to enjoy those things and see if anything gives you a spark of inspiration.
– Discuss it. Sit down with a friend and talk about your idea with them. Or, talk to yourself. Get the ball rolling by giving some background information or going over what you already know about your writing, and you might just get enough momentum to break through that writer’s block.
– Brainstorm. Come up with some ideas and write them down, and keep this list for whenever you need a little kick-start. Take note of the ones you’ve already used to avoid repeats. There are also some great sites out there that generate ideas for you, if you’d rather go the quicker route.
– Go for a run. After sitting at a desk all day trying to write, your brain is feeling pretty “blah”. Take a few minutes to exercise to get the blood circulating again — even if you don’t suddenly have ideas pouring out of your ears, you’ll feel better.
– Listen to music. If you know what the setting/mood you want to write is, find some music that helps you get a picture of that.
– Set goals. Tell yourself you want to write five articles a week, or that you want to finish the next chapter of your in-progress book before a certain date, and then promise yourself a reward if you make your goal.
Some people will tell you to force yourself to write even if you don’t feel like it, but sometimes that just doesn’t work. First and foremost, you need to enjoy writing, and if you force yourself to write when you just aren’t in the mood, it becomes a chore. While you shouldn’t put anything off for too long, there’s nothing wrong with distancing yourself from your writing for a day or two so that you can come back to it with fresh eyes.
There are a number of things that can cause writer’s block, but thankfully there are also a number of cures. It all comes down to finding what works best for you and sticking with it. You may need to try a lot of different things, and you may be frustrated when the first few don’t work, but eventually you’ll find something that helps you get through it in one piece. While writer’s block isn’t enjoyable, it doesn’t have to be undefeatable if you’re willing to experiment a little.