A few years ago I was writing blogs about business news and small business advice when I had a day that I was struggling to find a topic to write about, I finally decided to take this writer’s block head on and write a blog about dealing with it. One of the first things I found online about it was a Wikipedia entry. According to Wikipedia “writer’s block is is a condition, associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand.” Sound like a simple explanation, but it did not help me write my blog.
After a few hours of research and reaching out to other writers that I knew, I started to compile a few tips, but not before going down the rabbit hole know as the world wide web. The internet can be great for some things, but it can sometimes become a distraction that can take you far off you goal of what you are looking for and eat up a great deal of your time.
Before I offer some tips to overcoming writer’s block, lets talk about some of the common causes of writer’s block. The cause of your writer’s block might be different, but it might fall into this group of the common ones:
- Timing and Focus: Sometimes, it may simply not be the right time to write or your focus is being pulled elsewhere in many directions. Maybe your ideas may need a little longer to bounce around your head before writing them down.
- Fear or Anxiety: Fear is a powerful thing that can be festering over a writer’s head. Fact is that many writers struggle with being afraid, sometimes it can be with with just putting their ideas down on paper or onto your blog and thus putting them out there for anyone reading them to see them and critique their ideas and thoughts. Some would be writers will tell you that fear is a major reason they never become writers.
- Stress or Depression: When you are under considerable stress changes occur in your brain, your brain activity changes and the limbic system (the paleomammalian cortex) becomes activated. When the limbic system becomes active, a “fight-or-flight” response is generated, which often can reduce activity in the cerebral cortex. In a depressed state, you may be unable to think clearly and could experience brain fog. It can be difficult to feel inspired or motivated to write during periods of depression.
- Analysis paralysis: Just as powerful as fear, the need to be perfect can also be a major cause of writer’s block. Constantly analyzing your content, thinking that it may be lacking in some aspect or could be better is counterproductive. You have an idea, but you do not want to commit it to paper until you have everything perfect in your mind. The more you try to make the idea perfect, the longer it will take to get it out of your mind and onto your computer or onto paper.
I am not the expert on what can fix your particular writer’s block, but let’s look at some tips that I have tried and might help you with your writer’s block:
- Talk to an inanimate object – Explain what you’re really trying to say to a stuffed animal, child’s doll or even a cardboard cutout, they are not going to talk back. Talking out loud allows you to hear your thoughts and have a new perspective on them.
Take a walk – Get out of your writing space and away from your writing brain for 10 minutes. Think about furry animals and take the time to breathe.
- Step away from the computer; Write someplace new – If you’ve been staring at the screen and nothing is happening, the best thing to do is to walk away from it or just shut down the computer. You might want to take out a pen and a notebook, and go write somewhere new. I find going to a public library or a local park can be a great places to change where I am writing.
- Quit beating yourself up – How can you be expected to create when you feel ass-whipped. Stop visualizing the worst case scenarios and catastrophes, and focus on positive outcomes.
- Write ﬁve words at a time – Literally, put ﬁve completely random words on a piece of paper and stop. After a few minutes, randomly write ﬁve more words. Then try to make a sentence from a combination of those random words in no particular order. This will get your brain working differently and the writer’s block ends when you start making words on a page.
Some other quick tips that other people have suggested are:
- Going through your old browser bookmarks and see why you marked it, one might inspire you.
- Pick up a newspaper or magazine and get away from the digital world.
- Look back through the comments to blogs or postings you or others have made.
- Go onto twitter and see what is trending, read some tweets and get inspired. But be careful not to follow any links and find yourself down the rabbit hole.
Again, everyone has their own reasons for having writer’s block and everyone has their own way of dealing with it. Some techniques that work for me or others, may not work for you. If you do have a technique that works well for you, please share it with me so I can offer it as help to others.