— November 2017
There’s no denying it, writer’s block is a pain… But it doesn’t have to cripple your creativity. We’ve collated 15 really simple ways to overcome writer’s block here on our blog.
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all” – Charles Bukowski
Have you ever opened a new Word Document and placed your hands on the keyboard to find that your mind as gone completely blank, with not even a flicker of inspiration? It sounds like you may have suffered from writer’s block, a common phenomenon experienced by writers, bloggers and marketers alike.
First things first, what is writer’s block?
Writer’s block describes the condition of being unable to conjure an initial idea or proceed with a piece of writing that you have already begun. Some call it a creative slowdown, others say that their passion has faded, but all agonise with the same obstacle: the inability to write.
A wide range of professions are completely dependent on writing, meaning that a case of writer’s block cannot only be frustrating, but also incredibly problematic. On a more positive note, however, writer’s block is very rarely permanent. In fact, there are many techniques that sufferers can employ to help them surpass this state of flux.
Keep reading to discover 15 very simple ways to overcome a case of writer’s block…
1. Don’t always start at the beginning
Fretting over your first few words? Even the most skilled writers will not sit down and immediately launch into brilliantly worded prose. Rather than squandering time on a perfectly-crafted opening phrase, simply begin to write wherever your inspiration takes you - this may be the beginning, but it also may be the middle or end. Writing in this unorthodox manner will not only make writing process more fresh and exciting, but also help you to overcome the mental roadblocks that you face on the way.
2. Relax and take time to switch off
Have you heard the myth that people encounter some of their best ideas whilst taking a shower? Well, this concept is not entirely fictitious. Research has pinpointed that bursts of creativity can be triggered by a few key factors, with relaxation being one of them. We’re not saying that you need to take a shower, but if you can unwind into a more relaxed state, then your brain will work in a more dynamic and innovative way.
3. Get physical with a spot of exercise
Incorporating a solid 30 minutes of exercise into your day is not only beneficial for your wellbeing, but also for your creativity levels. If you are ever finding yourself feeling stuck at a writing hurdle, then take yourself away from your desk and outside for a quick walk or a light jog. Not only will this preoccupy your mind from the woes of writer’s block, but it will also improve your mood, reduce stress and boost brainpower.
4. Change your scenery and work elsewhere
Experiencing the same environment everyday can become incredibly monotonous and ultimately, stunt your imagination. In order to get your creative juices back flowing, relocate to a local library, café or park. This new setting will provide you with a fresh outlook, new inspirations and ensure optimum productivity.
5. Keep a list of ideas for inspiration
Some days, you will experience sudden bursts of creativity that prompt endless new concepts. These days, however, always seem to happen when you were not planning on writing at all (most probably because you are relaxed, as we discussed before). Make the most out of these occasions and make a note of the thoughts you have to ensure that the next time that you are feeling uninspired, you have a list of ideas ready at your disposal.
6. Switch up your writing method
Booting up your laptop and opening a Word Document has become a daily occurrence for many writers. The routine of using the same programme each and every day can become incredibly tedious and result in hitting a creative brick wall. The solution, however, is very simple: switch up your writing method. If you’re used to Microsoft Word, transfer over to a Google Doc or Evernote. These simple alterations may sound senseless, but it really is impressive how such small changes can make writing interesting again.
7. Fuel yourself with a bite to eat or a drink
Writing can require a lot of effort and concentration. Typing away at your keyboard for hours on end will result in two inevitable outcomes: burn out and the inability to produce any legible content. For an immediate wakeup call, help yourself to a coffee and a bite to eat. Certain foods, including dark chocolate and nuts, are ideal mid-day snacks due to their mood-boosting properties.
8. Play easy listening background noise
Research has revealed that music can stimulate productivity and help the brain to concentrate on taxing tasks. Although blaring your favourite songs may be counterproductive, playing ambient noise like autumn wind or sea waves can calm nerves and help you focus. So, the next time that you find yourself at a stumbling block, try playing a mellow track in an attempt to sharpen your alertness and maintain your creative flow.
9. Set yourself time solely dedicated to writing
Distractions can cloud your focus and unnecessarily lengthen the writing process. To ensure that you spend your time as productively as possible, make a conscious effort to switch off your mobile phone, close your email and refrain from using the internet. Once these potential diversions have been dealt with, set yourself a realistic timescale to write within – we find that 30 minutes is generally sufficient.
10. Write something out of your comfort zone
Whether it’s transitioning from non-fiction to fiction or trialling a spot of poetry, sampling a new style of writing can prove to be extremely refreshing. This change of pace is a great creative exercise for your brain, whilst helping you to break any poor writing habits and acquire new skills.
11. Try writing with others around you
Although working surrounded by others may initially sound quite distracting, there are many proven benefits of working amongst other likeminded professionals. Along with increased innovation, this collaborative way of working encourages a much smoother writing process as other creatives are readily on hand to provide help, advice and guidance.
12. Set goals that are both realistic and attainable
Writer’s block generally stems from fear: a fear of failure, a fear of rejection or even a fear of simply getting started. Let’s face it, staring at a completely blank Word Document can be a little daunting and make it seem as if you have a monumental task ahead of you. You can minimise this apprehension, however, by simply setting realistic and attainable goals. For instance, assign yourself a sensible number of sections to complete each day and you should find that you will minimise this angst and make the process stress-free.
13. Let your imagination run wild with freewriting
You can overcome writer’s block by – you guessed it – writing. However, instead of writing in a formalised fashion, disregard rules of spelling, structure and grammar and allow yourself to write freely. Try and type continuous prose for five minutes straight, without lifting your fingers from the keyboard. Forcing yourself to compose some sort of content will prompt the creation of new ideas, leaving you feeling inspired.
14. Engage in another creative activity
Paint a picture, take some photographs, retouch an image on Photoshop – basically, engage in an activity that will stimulate your creativity, whilst providing you with a break from writing. Commit to this endeavour for a few days, treating it as a ‘mini mind holiday’. This side project should allow you to return to your work feeling refreshed and revised, ready to undertake the next phase of your writing venture.
15. Take inspiration from your past work
Often, writer’s block is fuelled by self-doubt. In order to overpower this creative paralysis, read over some of your past work. Pick a piece that you were truly proud of – this well help to reinforce both your passion and confidence. Once you have read through some of your previous pieces, you will hopefully receive the boost that you need to begin writing once again.
Do you have any tips for dealing with writer’s block? If so, tweet us and let us know!