Why Writer’s Block Isn’t as Real as You Think
It’s true. I’ll say it again. Writer’s block isn’t as real as you think, so let’s debunk the myth and talk about how to overcome writer’s block.
First, imagine this. Have you ever stared at a blank page, anxiously waiting for ideas to flow, only to be stymied by a lack of inspiration, feeling trapped in what feels like an endless abyss of nothingness?
Congratulations! You’ve likely experienced what many people refer to as “writer’s block.” And you are not alone.
Every Writer Has Experienced It
Every writer has experienced moments when they stare at a blank page, willing the creativity to flow, only to find the dam blocked, but it’s not as real as you might think…meaning you can overcome it.
Wait, it’s Not Real?
What if I told you that this notion of a block on your creativity doesn’t have to derail your forward momentum?
It’s true. Writer’s block, that dreaded nemesis of every writer, has become the stuff of myth in the writing world, but it is not the insurmountable obstacle people sometimes make it out to be. Let’s delve into why and explore some practical tips to help you navigate through those moments when your creativity is stymied.
The Elephant in the Room
First and foremost, let’s address the idea of writer’s block: the belief that there is an implacable force that strikes without warning and leaves writers incapacitated for days, weeks, or even months on end, simply unable to write. The ideas and the words just won’t come.
While I don’t deny that every writer encounters periods of difficulty and frustration, I don’t attribute these moments to the nebulous concept of writer’s block. Think about it this way: when you hit a wall in your writing, is it really a complete absence of ideas, or is it more likely a temporary roadblock caused by some other factor, either outside your writing world or within your story? I believe that it’s the latter.
Potential Outside Factors that can Feel like they have Caused Writer’s Block
Roadblocks Caused by Story Problems
- Not knowing what happens next
- Not knowing your characters well enough
- Going off-track in your scene, chapter, plot, etc.
Identify the Cause
When you identify the actual reason behind the obstacle (what you perceive to be writer’s block) you can be proactive and begin to break down the barrier. It may take some self-reflection or admitting that you’ve gone off-track with your writing, but as they say, acknowledgment is the first step.
All this leads to my seven tips to help you overcome the roadblocks your mind throws up. These tips can help your creative waters flow. You can overcome whatever is stopping you from progress with your writing.
1. Change Your Environment: Sometimes, all it takes to reignite your creativity is a change of scenery. Step away from your usual writing space and find a new environment that inspires you. Consider a cozy café, a bench in a peaceful park, your local library, or simply a different room in your house. A change of scenery can provide a fresh perspective and help stimulate your creativity.
2. Free-write: Set a timer for a specific period of time – say, 10 or 15 minutes – and write continuously without worrying about grammar, structure, or coherence. Write about something other than your current project. Or write a character study. Or describe a scene. The goal is to let your thoughts flow freely without the burden of your plot or your outline.
3. Set Small, Achievable Goals: Break down your writing tasks into smaller, manageable chunks. Instead of focusing on completing an entire chapter or article, aim to write a single paragraph or even just a few sentences. Celebrate each small victory along the way, and before you know it, you’ll have made significant progress. Little pieces put together eventually add up to a whole.
4. Write Out of Order: If you’re stuck on a particular scene or section of an article, move on to something else. No rule says you must write from the beginning through to the end. Think about how a director shoots a movie completely out of order and then pieces it together to form a cohesive story. You can work that way, too. We recommend Scrivener as a great software program designed for writers. It makes the process of breaking your work into pieces and writing out of order very easy.
5. Take Breaks and Practice Self-Care: Writing can be isolating. It can also be mentally and emotionally taxing. For these reasons, we strongly encourage you to prioritize self-care. Take regular breaks to rest and recharge, engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, and make sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise. Your subconscious mind needs time to refill the proverbial well. When you are rested and rejuvenated, you are more likely to produce creative and inspired work.
6. Seek Inspiration from Other Sources: Along the same lines as self-care is seeking inspiration from some other source because sometimes, the best way to overcome a creative block is to step away from your own work. Read books, watch movies, listen to music, take a walk, or go for a hike in nature. Practice a hobby you enjoy. Be social. Do whatever sparks your imagination. This is another way to refill the creative well, which can provide fresh inspiration for your writing.
7. Give Yourself Permission to Write Badly: Remember that writing is a process, and rough drafts are meant to be just that – rough. Sometimes the idea that what we write isn’t good enough is the obstacle that stops our creativity. Let go of the idea of perfection and just write, knowing that you can always revise and refine your work later. Don’t let the fear of imperfection paralyze you; instead, embrace it as a natural part of the creative process.
To Wrap Up
While many people believe in writer’s block, I suggest approaching it with a critical eye and recognizing that it’s not, in fact, an insurmountable obstacle. It’s not as real as you might have been led to believe. By reframing your mindset, adopting proactive strategies, and practicing self-care, you can navigate through moments when the words don’t want to flow so you can unblock the dam. The next time you find yourself facing a blank page, remember that writer’s block is a notion you can divest yourself from and find ways to tap back into your creativity.
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