What to do with writer’s block: Eight practical tips
Writer’s block is a common experience for anyone who writes content, particularly those who write on a regular basis. But the good news is it isn’t a medical condition, so it will pass – all the quicker if you use these eight expert tips.
Some of the usual symptoms are:
- An inability to come up with new ideas for content.
- The blank page in front of you inducing a feeling of panic.
- Difficulty writing with your usual flow.
- A breakdown of confidence where you start to doubt your ability to write in the first place.
- A general feeling of anxiety in experiencing the condition.
Writer’s block also tends to be self-exacerbating. Until you break free and start writing again, the symptoms generally get worse over time. But how easy is it to come out the other end and start writing again? The following tips can help:
1. Remember it’s not a medical problem. For all the medical terms like ‘symptoms’ and ‘condition’, there’s nothing physically wrong with you.
2. The condition will pass. If you believe you have writer’s block, just accept it for what it is. However, also accept it is very common and you will get past it.
3. Writer’s block can be self-fulfilling. Avoid the temptation to classify yourself as having writer’s block at the first site of a blank page.
4. Just write. Instead of staring at a blank page, just write anything. It doesn’t need to make any sense to anyone, but just write all your thoughts as they come into your head in a continuous fashion for as long as possible. The very act of doing this can stimulate new creative activity and get you writing in a more coherent fashion.
5. You may simply be burned out and need to recharge your batteries. Do something completely different that you enjoy and where you can lose track of time. It’s even better if you do something involving fresh air, exercise, and some kind of repetitive activity. The fresh air and exercise feeds oxygen to your brain, and the repetition can have a similar effect to meditation. Go for a run if that’s your thing. Walk for half an hour. Mow the lawn. As your mind naturally wanders in a mentally relaxed, almost hypnotic state, you might find lots of ideas for new content slip into your mind effortlessly.
6. Go somewhere completely different for a while. Different surroundings and a new perspective can help stimulate renewed mental activity. If you usually write from home for example, try going to a library or coffee shop.
7. Change when you write. Many writers swear by getting their writing done very early in the day before anyone else is up. They are more mentally fresh and relaxed, it’s quiet, and they are unlikely to have their concentration disturbed by the demands of the day. Changing your normal schedule is often enough to get your writing flowing again.
8. Change how you write. If you normally do your writing on a computer as many writers now do, go to a computer-free zone and switch to a pen and paper. The distractions, temptations and interruptions that a computer generates – email, social media, web sites you frequent, instant messaging, games, and so on – can be enough to kill creativity.
Finally, prevention is better than cure, and the best method to prevent writer’s block is to capture new content ideas whenever they arise. You may find ideas for topics come to you while food shopping, playing with the kids, walking to work, on holiday, and so on. Carry a notepad and pen, use a smartphone, or leave yourself a voicemail.
As you develop this idea-capturing habit, you’ll find it tends to stimulate even more ideas. File away every idea and that panic-inducing blank page will become a thing of the past.