Two, tiny, simple words that even the greatest authors fear. You don’t want to speak them because you don’t want to curse your creative flow. But as a J.K. Rowling wrote, “fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”
If authors were wizards, writer’s block would be Voldemort. You hear about it all the time, but you never fully understand its power until you’re stuck staring at that blank screen for hours on end.
So how do we break the block?
1) Don't freak out
I know this sounds like the worst thing you could tell someone who has writer’s block. People say “it happens to every writer,” which also doesn’t help. I think what they are trying to say is “it’s okay.” You’re good. And you’re a good writer! Remember that. Don’t give power to the block. You have the ideas, you have the creativity, and you have the pen. You’re not out of ideas, you’re just brewing your ideas. You’re not lacking creativity, you’re simply pondering creative options. You’re not unable to write, you’re just choosing your words wisely. It’s easy to think you’ve lost all the tools, but you still have them. You just have to open the box!
2) Move around
The box of creativity won’t magically open itself. It might take some movement. Even if it’s as simple as moving from the your desk to the couch, a change of location can help change perspective. Maybe head to a nearby coffee shop or library. Go for a walk. Have a solo dance party. Practice yoga. Hit the gym. Garden. Cook a meal. Play an instrument. An increase in blood flow leads to an increase in oxygen, nutrients, and energy to the brain.
3) Give your brain a break
You’ve been thinking about what you should write—now stop. Has a great idea ever hit you when you’re least expecting it? We find inspiration surrounding us everyday. From a music lyric to a book quote, a movie scene to an art gallery—the fuel to our creative fire is all around us. All we need is a spark. Try reading a book or listening to music. I know that might seem a waste of time because you’re not physically writing. But think of it as research. It’s just as necessary. The sparks of inspiration are rarely hiding behind a blinking cursor.
4) Talk it out
Maybe you have the ideas but you don’t know how to put them on paper. Call friend, explain the background behind the project, task, or idea. Tell them what you’re thinking. Don’t tell him/her what you’re trying to think. Just say it. Explain your thought process behind the story, essay, article, etc. And if you don’t want to talk to someone, talk to yourself. We won’t judge. In fact, we encourage it! The weight of a keyboard can feel heavy with a white screen behind it. And talking about it can seem a lot less daunting than writing.
Again, probably the worst thing you could tell an author who is having trouble writing. However, three of the leading causes of writer’s block are procrastination, distraction, and perfectionism. Sometimes you just need to take that first step, write that first sentence—even if it’s horrible! Just because you start with a sentence doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Stop thinking about what to write. Just write down a lyric, memory, or anything—whether it’s related to your topic or not. Try starting in the middle of your essay or story. Try writing your thoughts down on paper. Writing on paper may seem like an ancient art, but studies show that it has great cognitive benefits. The physical act of writing can feel less restricted than typing.
If you follow just ONE of these five tips, you'll be writing in no time. You’ve already beaten the block. The block wants to keep you frozen. It wants you to do nothing. You’ve already started to overcome it by reading this. Don’t stop now!
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