Every writer has faced it at some point in their lives – the dreaded ‘Writer’s Block’!
The frustration of staring on to a blank screen for hours, unable to come up with a single word to get started with your writing.
The agony of having to sit in front of your desk for hours, not knowing how to start your essay or book, or any other piece of writing that you’re supposed to be doing. It can be highly demotivating and is often the leading reason why a lot of writers give up midway on books they are writing.
There’s conflicting opinion among writers regarding the ‘Writer’s Block.’ While some claim that it’s just an excuse that writers use to procrastinate, others view it as a psychological phenomenon that can be overcome with some effort and determination.
Whatever the real reason might be, the truth is, a lot of us tend to suffer from these annoying episodes of creative block that can often kill our motivation, and force us to concede defeat!
Thankfully, there are ways to overcome this creative block and get us started with our projects again. All you need is a little inspiration, and faith in your abilities!
- What is Writer’s Block?
- Common Causes of Writer’s Block
- A few ways to overcome the dreaded ‘Writer’s Block.’
What is Writer’s Block?
Writer’s Block, as defined by Webster’s dictionary, is a “psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.”
It’s those episodes of creative inhibition that you get while getting started with a new piece of writing. You try hard to stay focused but just can’t manage to maintain a steady flow of attention for more than a few minutes.
As a result, you barely manage to jot down a sentence or two after spending more than four hours sitting in front of your laptop, munching on some snacks, pondering the meaning of life, and eventually calling it a day!
The ways in which this phenomenon manifests itself on a writer is highly variable, but they all lead to the same result – a frustrating period of staring at the computer screen with no idea how to get started with your work.
Interestingly, a lot of people view Writer’s Block as nothing but a myth. Susan Reynolds, a writer and a psychologist, claims that it is just a fancy term that writers have coined to give a romantic flair to the challenges of writing.
Reynolds says that writing is a highly challenging mental process involving some rigorous cognitive expenditure. It requires significant mental effort, and is thus mentally draining. It is for this reason that writers often struggle to get started, rather than a lack of inspiration.
Irrespective of whether it is a real psychological issue or just a fancy term, it is real and extremely annoying!
The reason why we face this creative block can be hard to determine. However, there are a few common reasons behind why a lot of us hit the dreaded Writer’s Block!
Common Causes of Writer’s Block
Before we get to the remedies, let’s take a quick look at a few common reasons why we face the Writer’s Block in the first place. This will give you a better understanding of this phenomenon, and you might even end up discovering your own unique solution to this problem.
Being Obsessed with Perfection
I believe that Perfectionism is the single biggest reason why a lot of us tend to get stranded in the middle of our projects simply because it hasn’t lived up to our set expectations. It is perfectly reasonable for a writer to want to do their best. However, expecting everything to fall in place even before we’ve gone past the first paragraph is a major reason why a lot of us get stuck!
When you second-guess your writing after every single sentence, you lose your flow. Instead, you should allow yourself to write freely without hindrance, and only focus on editing after a considerable portion of your work is done.
Fear of Criticism
Fear of being judged or criticized for expressing their thoughts and ideas is a big reason why a lot of creative writers get stuck mid-way. This type of a creative block emerges when we’re afraid of being judged for our work, and end up re-editing our writing a dozen times in attempts to make it more appealing.
When fear of criticism prevents you from starting a new project, it becomes a problem. It is a huge reason why a lot of writers fail to express their thoughts freely.
When you’re being forced to write something that you really don’t want to, it’s quite hard to stay motivated. This is very much prevalent among students who are forced to write essays or articles on topics they hardly have any interest in.
It can be quite difficult to overcome such a situation because, unlike creative writers who are writing out of passion, people facing such a block fail to derive any motivation. In times like these, it’s advisable for you to take some external help. Essays Match can help you get high-quality, handwritten essays by expert writers on any topic you want!
This can be linked to our obsession for perfection, and can significantly hinder our progress. When we self-criticize our work constantly, we are demotivating ourselves and halting any chance of progress.
Comparing our work with that of other writers, or even our own earlier work can significantly affect the way we look at our present work. Eventually, we end up feeling like nothing we write is up to the mark.
A few ways to overcome the dreaded ‘Writer’s Block.’
Now that we know what that this whole ‘Block’ is all in our heads, and is caused by nothing but our own skewed ways of thinking – we can use a few simple tricks to get our mind straight.
Here are some highly effective ways of combating the Writer’s Block –
Switch Tasks or Take a break
If you’ve been unable to come up with anything significant even after spending over an hour in front of the computer screen, chances are, sitting there for a few more hours won’t help!
So instead of wasting your time staring at a blank screen, start doing something completely different for a while. It can be anything from walking your dog to working on some other creative project or even taking a nap.
This can often serve as a quick reset for your brain, and the next time you sit down to write – you just might have the answer you’ve been looking for hours!
Go Out and Exercise
When we really look into the phenomenon of Writer’s Block, it is ultimately nothing but a manifestation of stress that prevents us from achieving the same level of writing that we normally would. And what better way to deal with stress than a rigorous work-out session!
There’s plenty of scientific evidence which proves that physical exercise can go a long way in enhancing cognitive ability. Exercise reduces stress, improves memory and helps with matters of attention and focus.
Cardio exerciees, such as running, are particularly helpful as they encourage the development of brain cells in the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for imagination. According to research, a regular fitness routine may even help in boosting creativity and artistic abilities.
So in case you’re stuck staring at a blank screen, we suggest you go out and burn some calories!
Have an Imaginary Conversation
A great way of getting rid of the fear of criticism and judgment is by pretending to have a conversation with an imaginary reader of your work.
Whether you’re writing a blog for your handful of followers or a book that will potentially have an audience of millions, just the thought that there’s going to be people that will read and judge your work can be overwhelming.
In situations like these, pretending to have an imaginary conversation with a reader regarding your work can be of help!
Try a different location
A change in scenery is often everything you need to unclog your mind and let your thoughts flow freely!
If you’re stuck for hours on the same line, pack up your things and shift to a different setting. Maybe try a different room in your house or even something like a coffee shop or a public park.
Co-working spaces are also a great option to look into if you’re struggling to find inspiration. A professional setting such as that can be surprisingly stimulating for your mind to finally get its act together!
Curse like A Sailor
You might think this is dumb, but swearing is remarkably effective when it comes to dealing with stress and frustration.
So instead of bottling up all your frustration, let it all out through some expletives. Pretend to be angry. Try and become emotional if possible and then curse like a sailor!
Writing is an emotion, and sometimes getting yourself impassioned can make all the difference between mediocre and extraordinary!
One of the most common “solutions” that people tend to give when you ask them for advice to overcome Writer’s Block is to “just write!”
But if it were that simple, I wouldn’t be here writing this article. However, there’s something known as “Free Writing” that has been deemed to be highly effective when it comes to combating a Writer’s Block.
It is a type of writing exercise where you have to write without any rules, and jot down any thought that comes to your head instantly. No censoring, or editing! For five minutes straight, let your imagination roam free and write anything that pops in your head.
Once the five minutes are over, examine what you wrote and see if you can draw any inspiration from it. This technique takes practice, but is often very useful to get things started!
Remove all distractions
More often than not, being distracted is what leads to the ‘blockage’ rather than a lack of creative inspiration!
In this digital age, there’s no lack of distractions to impede our progress, and making sure you get rid of them is a prerequisite if you want to be productive.
So the next time you hit the ‘Writer’s Block,’ analyze your behavior and take note of whether you’re doing things that you aren’t supposed to be doing. This includes browsing the internet pointlessly, using social media or doing an unnecessary chore that can very well be done at a later point of time.
Try and create a distraction-free area when you’re writing. Get rid of items in your room that can distract you. Put your phone on silent, turn off notifications and let your co-workers know that you’re working, and request them not to interrupt unless absolutely necessary.
Stop ‘Binge Writing’
‘Binge Writing’ is widespread among writers, and is often the main reason why they face the writer’s block. ‘Binge Writing’ refers to the practice of not working on a project for weeks, and then going on a writing ‘binge’ for days on end.
More often than not, the pressure that builds up as a result of the guilt of not writing for weeks can manifest itself as a Writer’s Block.
An effective way to deal with this is to break down your project into smaller segments. Set a goal regarding how much you wish to write in a day, and then work towards fulfilling that. Many successful writers set these types of goals, such as 1000 words a day or 5 pages a day.
This helps to eliminate the stress that results from having to complete a monumental task in a short amount of time.
Writing is a challenging form of art that requires significant mental effort and skill. It’s not uncommon for even the best writers to face the infamous writer’s block, so you shouldn’t worry too much if you encounter such a situation!
The above techniques are tried and tested ways to overcome the Writer’s Block, and we’re sure you can get out of it with a little mental effort.
We hope we’ve been helpful, and we wish you all the best!