Writer’s block. Chances are, if you have any experience in creative or professional writing, you’re acquainted with it. But what exactly is it, and how do we move past writer’s block? Here are my Top 7 tips on how to power through writer’s block.
Tip #1: Write, Even If It’s Bad.
The number one cause of writer’s block isn’t a lack of inspiration, it’s the fear of writing something bad. In an article for Psychology Today, Susan Reynolds talks about one of the first instances of writer’s block. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a 19th Century English poet, expressed his fear of not being able to produce work he felt was on par with his writing talent. If you’re experiencing writer’s block, it’s very possible you’re experiencing the same fear! By writing regardless of the quality, you’re still allowing yourself to practice. Eventually, your desire to write will overpower that fear, and you’ll be less likely to suffer from writer’s block in the future.
Tip #2: Don’t Wait Until You’re “Feeling Creative” To Write
Many Romantic English poets felt that their writing came from an external source. The oft-quoted “muse” or “spirit” is more of a writer’s myth than a reality. If you wait until you’re inspired, you likely won’t be writing very often. Writing takes practice, just like playing a sport, learning an instrument, or painting murals. It is a craft that will take time, effort, and some elbow grease. Fight the urge to write only when you feel like it, and try to set aside time every day to practice writing.
Tip #3: Write For Yourself, Not Your Audience
If you are writing a specific story, blog post, or article, you may find yourself constrained by the audience you’re writing for. This is especially true if you are an experienced writer whose audience has come to expect a certain style or tone. Forget about that! Write like no one’s watching. If you write to please people, you may get stuck writing something you aren’t interested in. If you aren’t interested in it, you’re going to be less likely to want to write. Write for you! Write about what you find interesting, important, or article-worthy. Then, if it’s a novel or poem that must be done, try to go back to that project. By writing something that is appealing to you, you might just open the floodgates of creativity again.
Tip #4: Do Something Besides Writing
Beating your head against a wall will not help get your creativity back, and neither will staring at an empty Word document. Walk away from writing- take a shower, go for a walk, play with an animal. Just don’t try to write. Try not to even think about writing. Chances are, something you experience will spark your creativity and help you get through writer’s block.
Tip #5: Try Something New With Your Writing
Writing the same thing can get old after a while, but fear of being bad at something new can keep us from switching things up. Throw caution to the wind and try something new! For example, if you’re always using Google Docs, try a different word processor. You may also find success in trying out a different point of view. Do you always write short stories in the third person? Try writing the same story in the first person! This way, you aren’t spending time and energy trying to come up with an entirely novel idea, but you are still practicing.
Tip #6: Don’t Take Your Writing Too Seriously
We get so caught up in trying to write the best piece that we lose sight of the joys in writing. Try not to take your writing too seriously. For example, try making a “malaphor” by mixing two idioms! A personal favorite of mine is “it’s not rocket surgery”. You may also get some laughs out of applications such as Word Palette or Talk to Transformer. Sure, it won’t write your magnum opus, but it can make you laugh and give you some ideas!
Tip #7: Try To Find The Root Of Your Writer’s Block
As I’ve alluded to throughout this article, writer’s block isn’t because you aren’t feeling creative. There are so many issues that could cause the writer’s block, and it’s up to you to dig up your inner therapist and find out what’s really going on. Are you lacking in confidence? Are you just tired? Are you intimidated by the simple act of writing? If you’re working on a longer project, have you lost track of the story, or are you bored with the content? Are you working under pressure (cue Freddie Mercury)? Figure out what exactly is causing the writer’s block and then work from there. Finding the root of the writer’s block will make things a lot easier in the long run!
Be patient with yourself and understand that writing takes time. Don’t be discouraged if you’re struggling with writer’s block and try to keep writing!
What are your experiences with writer’s block, and how do you get through it? Were any of these tips useful? Let me know in the comments below. Happy writing!