It happens to every writer. It’s inevitable. Your prose has turned to mush, you don’t have a creative bone left in your body, and you want to throw in the towel. You have come to the end of yourself.
Writer’s block — every writer struggles with it. But what you do with it is what matters.
Common causes of writer’s block
The reasons for your block may vary, but here are some commonly-occurring ones:
- Timing: It’s simply not the right time to write. Your ideas may need to stew a little longer before writing them down.
- Fear: Many writers struggle with being afraid — with putting their ideas (and themselves) out there for everyone to see and critique. Fear is a major reason some writers never become writers.
- Perfectionism: You want everything to be just right before you ever put pen to paper or touch a keyboard. You try to get it perfect in your head and never do, so you never begin.
How do we vanquish this enemy?
It’s a tough question to answer, and I’m afraid I don’t have a great solution. I’ve personally wrestled with writer’s block on many occasions, and each victory looked different.
That’s the thing about writing: it’s an art, not a science. And you’ll have to approach it as such. There is no formulaic fix, no “7 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer Now.”
Well, except for one. But you already know what it is: Start hacking away. Begin trying stuff. Sometimes, the quirkier, the better. The trick is find something that works for you.
Creative solutions to writer’s block
Here are a few ideas to help you work through your creative constipation:
- Go for a walk.
- Eliminate distractions (I use Ommwriter to focus on just writing).
- Do something to get your blood flowing. (I like running.)
- Play. (My personal preference is LEGOS.)
- Change your environment.
- Read a book.
- Listen to music (try classical or jazz to mix it up).
- Brew some coffee (my personal favorite).
- Create a routine. Many famous writers have daily routines to summon the Muse.
- Spend time with someone who makes you feel good.
- Call an old friend.
- Brainstorm ideas in bullet points.
- Read some inspiring quotes to get you started.
The possibilities are endless, but movement is critical. You need to generate momentum to get out of your funk. Once you start heading in a direction, it’s easier to pick up speed.
Before you know it, your block will be a distant memory and you’ll be doing what you once thought impossible. You’ll be writing.
Equally important is how you do not overcome writer’s block.
How to not overcome writer’s block
Here are some anti-solutions to this problem:
- You do not overcome writer’s block by refusing to write until you feel “inspired.”
- You do not overcome writer’s block by wallowing in self-pity.
- You do not overcome writer’s block by procrastinating or making excuses.
- You do not overcome writer’s block by watching TV.
- You do not overcome writer’s block by reading articles on how to overcome writer’s block. (Kinda shot myself in the foot there, huh?)
A fail-proof means of breakthrough
If you’re still not satisfied, you have one last resort. An ace up your sleeve, if you will. The silver bullet solution.
The fail-proof way to overcome writer’s block is one you intuitively know. In fact, you’ve been avoiding it this whole time. Because it’s precisely what you don’t want to hear:
You overcome writer’s block by writing.
Start somewhere — anywhere. Write a few lines. Say anything. And see what happens. Don’t think about it too much or make any fancy announcements. Just write. It doesn’t need to be eloquent or presentable.
Write for the joy of writing. Because you can’t not do it. Don’t try to say or produce anything. Just get some words on paper. Now. No excuses or justifications.
You can write. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Just type a few words. They don’t have to be good (all first drafts suck). It just has to be written. Then you have something to work it. You can tweak from there.
If you do this, you’ll get past the hump. I promise. The difference between professional writers and amateurs is this: Both encounter blocks, but one pushes through while the other gets paralyzed. You can do this. Just write.
(One caveat: This technique only works if you’re truly blocked and not “empty,” which is an entirely different matter altogether.)
What’re you waiting for? Start breaking through the blocks today. And let me how it goes.
How do you overcome writer’s block? Share in the comments.
*Photo credit: Erin Kohlenberg