How To Overcome Writer's Block
October 20, 2021
Have you ever been in a situation where no matter what you do, it seems as if the words are not coming? I know that this has happened to me many times. When people ask me how I overcame my writer's block, well truthfully when working for an entertainment magazine on a day-to-day basis there was never any time for writer's block. The deadlines were so tight and we had to just keep writing despite our lack of creative ideas or inspiration.
Now that I no longer work in that capacity, my writing has slowed down. It's still there and it will always be but with all of the other things on my plate like publishing few books throughout the year while juggling freelance gigs to make ends meet; sometimes you just need some time off to regroup your thoughts before diving head first into the next project or book deadline.
Sometimes, writers have to deal with writer's block. Writer's block can keep you from writing for days or even months and it is tempting to ignore the problem when possible but that just won't suffice.
That's why I put together this post about overcoming writer's block like a pro.
You may not be able to find the perfect formula for overcoming writer's block, but I hope some of these tips will help you along the way. It certainly did for me.
1. The Best Creativity is a Result of Good Work Habits
Creativity can be easily elusive, but it doesn't have to stay that way. As Twyla Tharp once said, "Creativity is habit."
Developing this creative routine will help you get in the right state of mind and put your thoughts down on paper more easily or into the computer— not just when it's fresh from inspiration's hand.
2. Developing a Writing Routine
Creativity is not something that naturally ebbs and flows. But the truth is, if you only write when you "feel creative" then your creativity will eventually get stuck with writer's block. Developing habits over time can help combat this situation by organizing productivity in an orderly fashion so it doesn't take as much effort to start working on projects again once they've been left for awhile between other ones or forgotten completely because of writer's blocks—inducing distractions like social media sites and video games.
3. Use "Imperfect Words"
A writer can spend hours looking for the perfect word or phrase to illustrate a concept. You can avoid this by simply writing what you're thinking, whether is reads eloquent or not. You can come back later and refine it. Watch a movie or TV show, or eat a delicious meal to get your synapse crackling again. Snippets of conversations, sounds, colors sensations will creep into the space that once felt empty and you can return to your desk with a whole new spark of intention.
4. Balance Your Inner Critic
Yes, the inner critic always there to being your writing to a screeching halt with a big dose of self-doubt. All writers, even the greats—Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Charles Bukowski all struggled with it. You would be hard-pressed to find a writer who hasn't been blocked by their inner critic.
What these successful writers have in common is the ability to hear their inner critic, respectfully acknowledge its points, and move forward. Once you can establish a respectful, balanced relationship, you can address what's necessary and skip over what's insecure and irrelevant.
5. Do Non-Writing Activities
One of the best ways to climb out of a writing funk is to take yourself out of your own work and into someone else's. Do you have a favorite author? Read someone else's work to get inspired again. Watching funny cat videos is something else that has always worked for me too.
6. Look For the Root Of It
Writer's block often comes from a problem deeper than simple lack of inspiration. So you need to dig deeper to see why you are really blocked. Ask yourself the following questions:
· Do I feel pressure to succeed/or compete with other writers?
· Have I lost sight of what I am writing about or interest in the subject matter?
· Have I not written for so long that I feel intimidated by the mere act of it all?
· Am I simply tired and run-down?
Each of these problems has a different solution. For example, if you feel pressure to succeed, you should remind yourself that writing is an enormous accomplishment, and literary recognition isn't the be all and end all of success. If you are feeling tired and drained, just take a few days off from writing. But you have to get to the root of the block first: One you identify what is wrong, it will be much easier to fix.
7. Don't Start at the Beginning
By far the most intimidating part of writing is the start when you have a whole empty book to fill with coherent words. I know just the thought of it makes us beak out in a cold sweat!
So instead of starting with the chronological "beginning" or whatever you are tiring to write, dive into the middle, or wherever you feel more confortable. You will feel less pressure to get everything "right" straight away because you are already at a "halfway point"—and by the time you return to the beginning you'll be all warmed up and ready to go!
8. Write Something Else
Though it's important to try and push through writer's block with what you're actually working on, sometimes it is simply impossible. If you are banging your head against what you are writing, take a break. Push your current piece aside and write something new. You can always go back to it later.
9. Relax On Your First Draft
Many writers suffer from "perfectionism" issues, which can especially debilitating during a first draft. As Editor Lauren Hughes explains: "Blocks often occur because writers put a lot of pressure on themselves to sound 'right" the first time. A good way to loosen up and have fun again in a draft is to give yourself permission to write imperfectly."
Don't agonize about getting it exactly right. You can always go back and edit. But for this time around, just getting the words on the page is enough.
10. Stop Writing For Readers
If you are an experienced author, you most likely have seen advice on "write for the market." While this is important if you want to be published, the pressure of other people's expectations can be a huge inhibitor that manifests—you guessed it, as a huge block.
So, if you want to reclaim the joy of being creative, throw the "write for the market" idea out the window for now. This will help get you back in touch with what matters most— your story. This may indeed help your writing in the end. Disregard what readers expect and your writing will read less pretentious and more real.
For more tips on how to overcome writer's block, click here.