Writers block sucks.
We’ve all experienced the frustration of needing to write but being unable to. Oftentimes the block hits right when a deadline is looming. Our brain shuts down any ability we have to string together a handful of words.
Yoga, hard liquor and hurling the laptop across the room move the block temporarily. The writing that does make it past the block is inevitably of less than stirling quality but f*ck it, at least it’s something right?
You’re not alone. Writer’s block has been plaguing scribes since the dawn of well, writing. Cave-peeps probably struggled at times to express themselves adequately on their cavewalls.
“F*ck! I just don’t know what happens after the sabertooth enters the scene. These characters are cliched and that ochre handprint just doesn’t have the right consistency of spit. F*cken great – NOW I have to go and hunt a mammoth for the next 6 months.”
It’s tough. But there may be a reason why writer’s block is jamming up your creative flow.
You’re dealing with it wrong.
That’s easily fixed. In this post I’m gonna share an effective way of addressing writer’s block. I’m also going give you a list of 50 tools you can use to resolve your block.
How Can I Get Rid of Writer’s Block?
When dealing with a problem people often dive straight into solutionising. But writer’s block is not a one-size fits all situation. You need to take the time to consider what YOUR triggers are and to tailor solutions to fit YOUR needs.
So what should you do?
You need to identify:
- The Problem
- The Root Cause
- The Best Solution
- The Appropriate Action
Yo, What’s your Problem?
Get detailed about what your problem is. If it’s writer’s block, where is the blockage? Is it in the same part of the process each time? Do you struggle to start or is it more difficult to link sections together, find the right vocabulary, generate ideas, close strongly? Understanding the specific nature of the problem is the first step in resolving it.
What’s the Real Issue?
In most cases writer’s block is symptomatic of an underlying issue. Are you worried about the time you’re spending on writing at the sacrifice of another part of your life? Is a deadline looming that you don’t think you’ll meet? Are you anxious that you’re writing skills aren’t good enough? Are you just tired or emotionally drained? Dig deep to see if there is something else that is triggering your writer’s block. If there is, you’ll need to address both it and the block itself.
How Can you Fix it?
You’ll need a selection of writer’s block beating weapons in your arsenal rather than a single solution. One size doesn’t fit all and the solutions you try must be relevant for your unique situation. Pick and choose a selection of tools to try. Some will work and some may not. Think about having a few key ‘go to’ tools to aid the writing process. Add a few more for those times the usual tricks don’t work.
It’s Time for Action, Jackson
Now do it. All the whizz bang tools in the world won’t work if you don’t use them.
50 Ways to Kick Writer’s Block in the Kidney Stones
- Jot down ideas and stories as they come to you. Write, type or draw them. Refer to them when you’re stuck for ideas at a later point.
- Freewrite. Write down anything without stopping or editing/perfecting as you go for 10 minutes. Sometimes the act of writing will itself clear a blockage. At the very least you’ve got a starting point for your piece.
- Start in the middle, or the end. If the start is what’s tripping you up, ignore the sodding thing.
- Say it like you’d say it to a mate. Sometimes you’ll get more clarity in the text if you say it like you’d speak it. You can always refine the writing later.
- Promise yourself you’ll wordsmith it afterwards. Use crap vocabulary without fear of censure. You know you’re going to edit the draft afterwards. That’s when you can tighten your writing and choice of words.
- Write as much as you feel like on a topic and stop as soon as the inspiration’s gone. These bits of writing will become your starters when you get stuck for ideas.
- Brainstorm. Take a topic and identify as many sub-topics and relevant points as you can about it without limits. Afterwards you can choose some or all of the ideas and use them to guide your post.
- Carve out time for writing. Set time aside in your diary to dedicate to writing.
- Don’t hit the internet. The internet is a procrastinator’s enabler. Set time aside to research then close that mofo down.
- Ignore social media. Ditto point 9. You don’t really need to know what Taylor and Kristine are up to right now. Something fun I bet. (There are apps and software to do this kinda thing for you if you lack the willpower to do it yourself.)
- Develop a writing process. Approach your writing in the same way each time. It’s like building muscle memory. You can let your habitual behaviour take over when your brain doesn’t wanna play in the same team.
- Give yourself a break. Negative self-talk is the enemy of creative writing.
- Relax baby. Be purposeful about your relaxation – make it count. Give yourself permission and the space to recharge.
- Manage your writing like a project. Have a deadline and work backwards to fit in each phase of writing. By giving yourself the right amount of time and mini milestones to meet, it can be less daunting than having the ultimate completion hanging over your head day after day after day.
- Figure out the best environment for your writing and arrange it so. Try not to get obsessive about it though because it will end up triggering a block if you can’t get teddy smoochy poo sitting just right on your desk next to your ancient andes sourced ink.
- Reduce the noise. Cut out all the extraneous activities and projects and focus on one thing at a time. Lack of prioritisation can generate a lot of chaos.
- Increase the noise. Write multiple pieces. Jump from one to the other as the mood takes you. The important thing here is to write constantly, but vary the topics.
- Vary your day. Intersperse your writing with set breaks – food, drink, exercise etc. Limit the time you spend on each of these so they don’t end up becoming too much of a distraction.
- Curse. Every time you get stuck for a word substitute a curse word. It’ll make finding the f*ckers a little easier too. Your review will need to be top notch.
- Scream. Each time you strike a block, channel your inner Xena and let out a warrior whoop. It’ll release tension and potentially scare your block into submission.
- Pretend you’re someone else. Screw it, if you’re blocked be someone who isn’t blocked.
- Schedule writing development sessions. Every month or so, set time aside to take up a new writing challenge. A structured approach to expanding your writing skills can convey a sense of achievement. If you don’t do this you may find you miss the progress you are making as a writer. Celebrate that sh!t honey!
- Create a fake audience. Work out who you want to write to, what they need from you. Give them names and personalities. Speak to them through your writing.
- Make a set of prompts. Create a list of questions and topics that will inspire your next post or chapter when you’re stuck for ideas.
- Read. Read for pleasure and inspiration (not for research). Read magazines and books that have nothing to do with writing. Or read magazines and books filled with the sort of writing you aspire to.
- Set yourself mini-challenges. I have to write 1500 words before I pee after drinking a litre of water, I have to finish a chapter before my train arrives at the station. Pretend you’re in the Hunger Games or Running Man or some computer game where you lose 10 hearts if you don’t meet the challenge. Have some fresh hearts on hand to throw in the bin should this eventuate.
- Ditch the laptop. Get down, dirty and old skool your ass. Grab a pencil and paper and draw like a 3 year old. Freely and joyfully, utterly consumed with the creative process and thrilled with the end product. Because it’s just right the way it is. Then approach your writing the same way. Only put your grown up hat on once you reach the editing phase.
- Write in a different medium. If you normally use a laptop switch to paper. Tell yourself the block is attached to your usual medium and you can float free of that b@stard by switching your device.
- Write somewhere else. Ditch the desk or couch. Head outside or to a cafe or a library. Get some fresh air man!
- Shower. Freshen yourself up. Get sparkly. Think of new ideas in the shower. Sing. Then come out refreshed and ready to create.
- Clean. Sometimes mess is just freaking distracting. Get rid of it you mucky pup.
- Get over yourself. Come on, is it really writer’s block or are you being self-indulgent? Get your ass back in it dammit!
- Be a rebel. Write something rude, something controversial. Say things you know you shouldn’t. Either it’ll be gold or you’ll have the bones of a new post that you’ll have to rewrite completely. Pfft, at least you’ll have fun.
- Tell yourself it’s not a block, it’s a sign that you have a new direction to take. If the path you’re on is blocked take another one.
- Don’t make a writer’s block mountain out of a molehill. Shrink it down to size. Picture it as a minor annoyance – one you’re perfectly able to swat aside.
- Have sex.
- Eat well. Treat yourself to a sumptuous feast. Enjoy hedonistic pleasures then sated, create.
- Eat purposefully. Have frequent nutritious snacks. Consume dopamine boosting foods and give your brain every chance to get creative again.
- Ask other people what they think. Talk about your story or your post with friends or other writers. You’re not a lone monk writing scripture on a freaking mountain top. Unless you are, in which case sorry bro.
- Crowdsource some new ideas. Other people have brains too. Shocking I know.
- Dance it out. Put on music that touches your soul and groove honey! By giving yourself over to someone else’s creation and fitting your body to their rhythm you may find your own again.
- Go ahead and get silly, Billy. Paint your face, put a costume on, get your adult diapers out (or don’t). Sometimes introducing an element that is slightly askew from normal, helps nudge you out of a rut.
- Change position. Stand on your head for a while, downward dog or just simply stretch. Your brain is part of your body so treat your body well.
- Do something mystic. Whatever rings your bell son, ring that.
- Join a writers group. Whether it’s a group that will hold you to account or hold your hand, find one that suits your needs and get participating.
- Read what you’ve written out loud and dictate the rest.
- Boot everyone out of the house so you’re totally alone and can finally concentrate on writing. Ugh, people can be so annoying and so unconcerned with the sanctity of your writing space. Especially little mini humans. But seriously, sometimes alone-time is what you need. Consider a writing retreat if no-one submits to your desire for some shush time.
- Luxuriate in your writer’s block. This may sound counter-intuitive but accepting the block for a short time can be liberating. It’s a hall pass for you to kick back and do something else for a while. Seeing the block in a positive light removes the anxiety associated with it.
- Get some sleep. Go to bed early whenever you can. A tired brain is a breeding ground for stress and worry – the enemies of creativity.
- Attend to your other responsibilities. Take the kids to the park, cook dinner for your partner, clean the house. Do it all without resenting the time it’s taking away from your writing. Give yourself fully to other people and live in the moment. Don’t bide your time until you get to write.
Writer’s block is a leech, sucking precious time and energy you can’t spare. The frustration and impotence of not being able to form sentences is painful.
Follow the steps outlined above (problem, cause, solution, action) and choose the tools that meet YOUR needs. Writer’s block isn’t insurmountable. You can knock that b@stard down and be ready for it the next time it tries to get in your way.
I pity the fool.
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What are some ways you found work for you in beating the block? Love to hear them – drop them in the comments field – I love me some comments.
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