You close out your last Zoom meeting for the day and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s time to work on the copy your supervisor asked for at the beginning of the week. The blank page pops up, your fingers hover over the keyboard, and… nothing. Your mind is filled with static and the once manageable task of writing to promote your company’s services might as well be climbing Mt. Everest in shorts. A groan escapes your lips- you’ve got writer’s block.
While the term “writer’s block” was first coined in the mid 20th century, writer’s block is a psychological phenomenon that has been a problem since the beginning of writing. From students writing school assignments to established authors fleshing out an alternate universe, many writers experience writer’s block at some point.
There are various reasons someone might experience writer’s block: fear and anxiety about their work, often manifesting as perfectionism, or perhaps apathy and lack of interest in the subject at hand. Regardless of the cause, the writer is creatively blocked, stopping their work dead in its tracks, sometimes before it even began.
The good news is that writer’s block is not permanent and can be alleviated with the right remedy at the right time. Here are some ideas for when you have writer’s block that you can try out.
Yes, this is counter-intuitive when you have a mental block with writing, but can be a way to unclog your brain.
Writing away writer’s block can take many forms:
Write the body or conclusion of your essay when you’re stuck on the introduction
Try free association writing when your thoughts feel scattered or empty
Write dream or personal journals that are for your eyes only
Plus with Google, there is no shortage of quick writing exercises should these feel like they are too large or time-consuming to take on. Simply knowing that, yes, you are capable of writing can be enough to release the dam.
Now close your eyes, relax, and write whatever comes to mind however random and disconnected; ignore typos or bad handwriting.
Many consider their creativity to be how the ancients considered their Muses- ethereal beings that descend and bless them with ideas. More commonly, however, creativity is more like a cascading row of dominoes. There is a trigger, and then everything falls into place.
Staring at the blank page on a screen or in a book does little good while searching for inspiration, so look elsewhere. Go hiking on your favorite trail, listen to a nostalgic album or delve into a new genre, or call a loved one. Reconnecting with the world around you might give you access to the world or story you are trying to build in your writing.
Can’t leave home? Try walking through museums around the world.
Finally, something we have all been guilty of at times is neglecting our physical needs. The words are not coming to us because our body is trying to tell us to rest.
Have you been sleeping well and for long enough? How much water did you drink today? Is caffeine a large part of your diet? When was the last time you ate a proper meal? How about the last time you had some exercise?
Stepping away from work can be very difficult; not feeling productive is frustrating, after all! Taking a break during writer’s block is an investment in your future self and the work itself. So do some breathing exercises and toe-touches, then set a timer to drink water at intervals, and take a nap if you need it. Self-care is self-improvement.
Stretch out and go watch this video.