There is one thing that incessantly haunts aspiring writers and often scares the living daylight out of them. It never really goes away and it’s always present in the background, looming large and threatening to engulf them. A tad exaggerated description perhaps, but it is something that definitely is problematic for writers. Rightfully called Writer’s block, this strange phenomenon that takes place inside the heads of most writers still baffles many. It is almost as if one day you’re spouting out oodles of quality matter and the next day you are staring at the blank pages of your notebook in helpless desperation. Here begins a period that can stretch on till days, weeks and sometimes months altogether, where hopeless writers desperately seek inspiration in a bid to force something out of them but are unsuccessful in their fervent attempts.
According to Wikipedia, writer’s block is “a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown”. There is a certain inability to produce ideas that earlier came comparatively easily, therefore slowing down the creative processes. It therefore leads to a crisis that builds up further due to the frustration faced by the writer. The problem of writer’s block isn’t a new one; it has been faced by writers over the ages. Often, it is a threatening prospect for people who aim to make a living through their writing. They cannot wrap their head around how something that came to them naturally a while ago was posing them a challenge.
As daunting as it may be, writer’s block can definitively be conquered and one can jump back into their earlier writing process as if nothing ever happened!
Writer’s block is the name given to a collection of deeper processes that go on in the psyche of a writer. It is not something that can be cured or treated because it isn’t an ailment. Writer’s block is often caused by conflicting feelings and emotions that hinders the creative process.
Certain emotions such as performance-related fear and anxiety, distractions, a certain degree of procrastination, stress due to looming deadlines, mental fatigue and want for perfection are some of the reasons why writers find it difficult to express their ideas as eloquently as they would want to. It can be compared to mentally hitting a wall or reaching a dead end of ideas and inspiration, and it can be quite frustrating at times. This piling up of such things on top of one another plus other factors combine to form what we call a “Writer’s block”.
The best way to find your way around writer’s block is to find out the underlying conditions and tackle them first. Fear plays an important part in not only writing but all sorts of performances. The constant pressure to write well and being compared to one’s earlier good performance is something that gives us all anxiety.
More for writers of all sorts, this is an attempt to fulfil the expectations of their readers and deliver quality content consistently. Such fears are justified and one has to understand the fact that they have to accept this fear as a regular part and parcel of their writing career, and this fear is what will eventually drive them to improve their writing skills.
Procrastination too can be blamed for writer’s block. As harmful as it is, procrastination is something that we all practice from time to time. For a writer, it deters the creative process as it breaks the continuity that one needs to maintain to deliver consistently. To deal with this, one should keep a set amount of time apart to procrastinate, when they should simply let go of all worldly concerns and squander their time away. By accommodating procrastination in their busy schedules one can fit multiple things within their schedules and adhere to deadlines with a bit more of ease.
Distractions are present all around us, the biggest one being the one what you are probably holding in your hand right now — your mobile phone. But in reality, anything from responsibilities, to relationships and other people as well can serve as distractions that keep you from your work and disturb you repeatedly. If you actually hope to make a career out of writing, managing your distractions in an effective way is of prime importance. To trump this, set a strict writing schedule at times when you feel you are most productive. To further enhance these sessions, try turning off all social media during the time allocated for writing just to decrease the amount of distractions that would otherwise pile on top of you. Preferably, turn your phone off or put it on silent while you write. Numerous apps are available on the internet that temporarily disable you social media for a particular period of time, in case you just cannot let go of that phone!
Perfectionism is another reason why writers are unable to write for prolonged periods of time. It is quite obvious that every writer wants their collection of works to be in the form of a rising ladder, with their works improving consistently, rather than it being a downward spiral. Just brainstorming for ideas takes up a lot of mental energy and it can be frustrating when new ideas just don’t seem to spill out of the tip of the pen. The perfect panacea for this is to just slow down for once, take a deep breath and stop trying to control your creative processes. It is an exercise in futility, since you just cannot.
Instead, try to write as much as you can without obsessing over the outcome or worrying about trivial details. By separating your writing from your final editing process, you can gradually regain confidence. Keep in mind that once you get into the flow of writing, perfectionism shall automatically follow. Waiting for inspiration is also considered to prolong the period of writer’s block.
There are a few tried and tested methods that can help you to overcome writer’s block, but one should keep on experimenting so as to see what works for them in the long run. One way is to temporarily leave the writing part and engage in some creative activity that doesn’t necessarily have to do with what you are writing. For example, paint, draw, write poetry, build something, make a collage or even do something like gardening. This would definitely help you to refresh yourself and also give you some ideas in the process.
Try brainstorming or free-writing to get the creative juices flowing. Stopping the writing process entirely is surely never going to work. Instead, try to write about topics of a wide range that are not related to what you generally write. This will surely give you a break and time to arrange your thoughts while enabling you to not break away from the creative processes entirely.
Whatever you write about during brainstorming doesn’t have to be relevant! It is just a way to uncover ideas and get you moving along. Also, take notes during this process that would help you later when you get back to proper writing once and for all. Use visuals instead of plain text to spice up the process and draw flowcharts, speech bubbles, arrows and even images instead of just jotting down plain sentences.
Bullet journals are an awesome resource to increase your productivity.
Change your work setting to your liking. Another way of nudging the inspiration in is to rearrange your desk or entirely change your workplace to someplace non-conventional, like under a tree in your backyard. Apart from this, try to maintain a regular sleep cycle as many have found out that this actually helps. Consider keeping a dream diary so that you could quickly jot down some of your dreams in the morning that could also serve as inspiration.
Another method is to read consistently. Often as writers we forget how important it is to maintain a consistent reading habit. This might prove useful as reading might egg on some new ideas into your head and get the creative juices flowing.
Writer’s block, though unknown by quite a lot of people can prove as quite daunting to writers. But you should always keep in mind that your creative abilities haven’t suddenly gone poof! into the air, but just need a little work and reinventing and they’ll be back there in no time at all.
Just learn about your writing process and try to work your way around it. Most importantly keep your mind over matter and conquer the fear, trying to focus on the moment instead of fretting about the future of your writing. To get back into the swing of writing try not to focus on writing things that would definitively contribute to your body of works. Try writing for the purpose of honing your skills or just for fun!