Use These 10 Tips to Eliminate Writer’s Block
If you’re a writer, this writer’s block scenario will probably be familiar to you—you finally sit in front of your computer, open the piece you’re working on, and take a moment to calibrate your creative energy.
You start writing and immediately hit backspace. You try again. Backspace again. Before you know it, an hour has passed, and you’re staring at an empty page, wondering how you will hit your word count—writer’s block has killed your creativity.
Fortunately, writer’s block isn’t a permanent condition. But what is writer’s block? And what causes writer’s block in the first place? Here’s everything you need to know to unleash your creative flow and overcome it.
What Causes Writer’s Block?
Every writer knows the pain of sitting down to write only to find that the words aren’t finding their way onto the page. Sometimes writer’s block has an obvious cause, but other times the problem seems to be the writing itself. While every writer has different triggers, here are a few common causes of writer’s block.
Ever heard the old saying, “Perfectionism is the enemy of progress”? If you’re obsessing over every detail in the drafting stage, you’ll have difficulty hitting your word count.
Too many or too few ideas
Whether you’re stumped about where your piece is going or you have a million ideas competing for real estate on the page, it’s challenging to make meaningful progress.
Some writers work well under pressure, but for others, it can cause a significant case of writer’s block.
10 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block
Enhance your workspace
Your workspace should make you feel comfortable, inspired, and productive. Try putting your desk in front of a window. If you work in the evening, get a desk lamp for soft lighting. And while laptops are great for portability, many writers find that a full computer setup with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor helps them buckle down and get to work.
Plan writing into your day
If you want to succeed as a writer, you must make writing a habit. And habits usually require you to stick to a schedule. Think about the time of day that you’re most productive and block off as much time as you can to sit down and write. If you’re a busy mom, waking up before everyone else is a safe bet for some quiet time. If you’re a night owl, you can’t go wrong with a glass of wine and a writing session before bed.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is simple. Set a timer for 25 minutes, and don’t stop writing until the timer goes off. Then, take a quick 5-minute break to move around, get some water, and give your brain a rest. When the timer goes off, get back to work for another 25 more minutes. After four 25-minute focus sessions, take a more extended 15-minute break.
If the words aren’t coming, don’t force them. Instead, walk away from your work for a while. Grab a coffee, go for a walk around the block, or throw in a load of laundry. Just give yourself a bit of time and come back to it later.
Start at the end
Try finishing the piece, even if you haven’t written the rest. It sounds crazy, but sometimes it’s easier to build the bridge once you’ve seen what’s on the other side. This is especially true for novels.
Start in the middle.
Alternatively, try starting right in the middle of the action. It can help get your imagination working, making it easier to find the starting and ending points later. What’s more, if you spend too much time thinking of how to start your book, you can get “married” to specific ideas that might impede the creative process later in the piece.
Write it badly first.
It’s called the “rough” draft for a reason. Don’t worry about making it “good” until you start editing. Instead, focus on getting your ideas on paper, and then you can go back and make improvements later.
Reading a book, magazine or creative blog (like our Dreamer’s Diary!) to help you get unstuck. Reading might sound obvious, but it is one of the most effective “hacks” for overcoming writer’s block. Not only will you glean inspiration, but it will also help activate your brain’s language processing center. Try reading a book that’s written in a style similar to your writing style.
A change in scenery can be compelling. A coffee shop, library, or even just a different room in your home can help jolt you out of your funk. Monotony is the enemy of creative writing, so switch it up and see if a new environment can give you a boost of creative energy.
Try a writing prompt.
Put your work aside for an hour and try writing to a prompt. Prompts can serve as an “ah-ha” moment to get your writing flowing again, even if it’s unrelated to what you’re trying to write.
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