Do you find yourself staring at a blank screen, willing the words to come? Most people think of writer’s block as this insurmountable obstacle that prevents them from writing. It is a common problem for writers of all experience levels. But what causes it? More importantly, how can you overcome it?
Here, we’ll explore what causes writer’s block and seven ways to get over it and stay in the flow.
What Exactly Is Writer’s Block?
Most writers have experienced writer’s block at some point in their lives. Whether you’re a student struggling to finish an essay or a professional author working on your latest novel, this frustrating condition can strike at any time.
So, what exactly is writer’s block?
It’s a period when you can not produce new ideas or put them into words. You might feel an idea coming to you, but you struggle to identify and analyze it. Writer’s block also causes you to go back and forth. You will find yourself writing and erasing. It will make you feel unconfident and uncomfortable in your space.
Common Reasons for Writer’s Block
Writer’s block is more common than you think. Every writer faces it at some point, and several reasons lead to it.
One of the most common reasons for writer’s block is perfectionism. When we strive to make our writing perfect, we can get bogged down in details and lose sight of the big picture. This can be especially true if we compare our work to other writers who seem to have it all together.
Fear and Self-Doubt
Another common cause of writer’s block is fear and self-doubt. We may be afraid that our writing isn’t good enough or that we’ll make a mistake. This can lead us to second-guess ourselves and our ideas, which can, in turn, prevent us from getting started or making progress.
Burnout is another common reason for writer’s block. When we’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it can be difficult to muster the motivation to write. This is especially true if writing feels like a chore or if we’re unsure what to say.
Lack of Ideas
Sometimes, the problem isn’t that we can’t write. It’s that we don’t have anything to write about. We may also feel we have several ideas about what to write, but they are either blurry or unidentified. This can be incredibly frustrating if we feel like we should be writing but can’t come up with any ideas.
While these are the most common reasons for writer’s block, many other reasons lead to it.
7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block
No matter how common writer’s block is, it should not stop you from progressing. Here are seven common ways (tried and tested) to overcome your struggles.
One of the most common pieces of advice for overcoming writer’s block is to get up and move your body simply. Exercise can boost your memory and thinking skills. It gets the blood flowing and can help clear your mind, making it easier to focus on the task.
You can go for a run or take a yoga class. Even a brisk walk around the block can do wonders for your mental state.
If you don’t have time for a full workout, there are still plenty of exercises that you can do right at your desk. Taking a few minutes to stretch or do some light calisthenics can help to increase your energy and get you out of your head.
Cut Out Distractions
Whether it’s social media, email, or even general life stressors, anything that pulls your attention away from your writing can make it challenging to get back on track.
By eliminating anything that might pull your focus away from your writing, you can give yourself the best chance of getting your ideas down on paper (or screen).
Of course, cutting out distractions isn’t always easy. Here are a few practical tips for doing it:
- Set aside some dedicated writing time daily, and stick to it.
- Turn off all electronic devices that might be a distraction. If you need complete silence to focus, try using noise-canceling headphones.
- If you find yourself distracted by thoughts about other things, write them down and save them later.
- Take breaks as needed, but make sure they are truly breaks. Step away from your work completely, and do something completely different.
- Set a goal for each writing session, and stop once you reach it. This will help you stay focused and avoid getting bogged down in details.
Avoid Writing in Binges
Another effective way to avoid writer’s block is to write regularly, even if it’s just a few words each day. Keep a journal or blog to track your progress, and make writing a part of your daily routine. If you do find yourself stuck, don’t force it. Take a break, leave your work, and return when you’re feeling fresh. With a little time and effort, you can overcome writer’s block and get back to producing great content.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
Staying in your comfort zone is an unhealthy trait that affects every part of your life. One of the best ways to overcome writer’s block is to leave your comfort zone. That means doing things that are new, challenging, and outside of your normal routine. It can be anything from exploring a new topic to writing in a different style or genre.
Free-writing is when you write without stopping, censoring, or editing yourself. The goal is just to keep writing, even if it doesn’t make sense or is a stream-of-consciousness style.
Free-writing can help you to get your thoughts and ideas down on paper, and then you can go back and edit them later. It can also help set a timer for a specific amount of time and just write until it goes off.
Meditation is a powerful practice that can help overcome internal struggles, including writer’s block. When we meditate, we focus on our breath and allow our thoughts to pass by without judgment or attachment. This allows us to create space between ourselves and our thoughts, giving us greater control over them.
Meditation has been shown to increase creativity, reduce stress, and improve focus and concentration. All these benefits can help us break through the mental barriers preventing us from writing.
Take Time Off
There’s no shame in admitting you’re having writer’s block trouble. But that doesn’t mean you have just to sit around and wait for the inspiration to hit you. Sometimes, the best way to get over a case of writer’s block is to take some time off.
Yes, that’s right. Time away from work can help you get back on track and start writing again. Here is why:
- You come back refreshed
- You can take your mind off focusing on one thing
- You have time to process your thoughts
- You have time to do other things that inspire you
Taking the time to reflect on your writing and the causes of writer’s block can be a valuable tool to help improve your writing. Even if you don’t find the answer to your troubles, taking a break and returning with a refreshed mind can be an effective way of getting back into the swing of things. It’s important to remember that writer’s block is not something that needs to be feared—it’s ultimately just part of life as a writer. With dedication and determination, even the toughest cases can be cured.