Many writers have fallen victim to writer’s block. We have a large vision of what it is we’d like to create, but we don’t know where to start, or we get started and then get stuck halfway through. Our dear friends at Merriam-Webster define writer’s block as “a psychological inhibition prohibiting a writer from proceeding with a piece.” For those of you that have struggled (or are struggling) with writer’s block, let’s take some time to discuss a few strategies for how to unblock writer’s block.
Get Away From Your Computer (or pen, typewriter, etc.)
Sometimes, continuously bashing our heads into our computer keyboard isn’t the best way to extract our best work. I often find myself doing my best work after I’ve been away from the computer (or pen, or typewriter) for an extended period of time. It’s hard to maintain motivation and maximize creativity when we are spending 8+ hours per day sitting and writing (or at least trying to!).
Often, going for a walk, grabbing a beer with friends, or taking your dog to the park can allow your mind the break it needs to refocus when you return to your project. Our minds typically continue to work on problems subconsciously, even when the forefront of our consciousness is focused on something completely non-related. You may also find answers to specific dilemmas your characters are facing or on how to fill holes in your plot by talking with friends or family about the struggle.
Don’t Be Afraid of Mistakes
While we must all be careful of “word vomit,” there is a certain benefit to writing without any concern over whether whatever it is you’re writing is actually any good. Sometimes we simply need to write and worry about sorting the good from the bad later on. From this standpoint, I’ve found a daily journaling habit to be very useful as well. It allows me to write without concern for quality, and then often leads to better quality on projects that are ‘deliverables’.
Reading is a great alternative to writing. Many of you probably know this because many writers are also voracious readers. By consuming the work of other authors, we can continue to refine and improve our own writing style. If you’re working on a project in a specific niche or genre, find a contemporary book (or two) that has been well accepted by readers. This will help you learn what it is readers are looking for and tailor your project to those desires.
Change Your Writing Environment
Writer’s block can also be caused by a stagnant environment. While I yearn to one day have a true writing nook in the home of my dreams, I have to settle for the environments that I have at the moment. This comes in the form of a standing desk at home, high-top stools at some coffee shops, and low desks at others.
The fortunate thing (at least for most of us in the U.S.) is that there is no shortage of coffee shops with free Wi-Fi and all the caffeine we could need to break through the wall of writer’s block. One way you can overcome this hurdle is to change locations (and order another cup of coffee!).
Create a Writing Routine
While it is often said that creative types are night owls and have trouble adhering to traditional schedules, it can sometimes be helpful to create a routine around your writing needs. This routine could be based on a specific word count (say, 2,000 words per day) or a time frame (“I want to write for two hours in the morning and two hours every night). Depending on whether writing is your full-time job or just a side hobby, your ideal routine will obviously differ.
Those that have other employment responsibilities can especially benefit from creating a writing routine. For me, (as a full-time outdoor guide during the summer months) it has been extremely helpful to create a three-month content calendar to stay organized and on-task while I have other things that require large percentages of my time.
Just Write (About Anything!)
We often get caught up in the specific project we are trying to complete. I’ve been there when I need to write five articles in a day because I wasn’t motivated to write them and procrastinated for as long as possible. But sometimes we just need to break the dam (so to speak) and put words onto paper. This is another reason why I started the journaling habit that I mentioned above.
Some days I simply did not want to write another ‘Tips for Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors’-type article and I would do anything to avoid starting such boring content. When I sat down at my computer and spent the first 15 to 30 minutes writing completely for myself, however, I found it much easier to dive into this type of content once my fingers had been warmed up.
Starting a personal blog that allows you to share, and get feedback on, this type of off-the-cuff content can also be a great way to improve the quality of your writing and refine your writing style. If you’re interested in one of the best (in my opinion) platforms for hosting a website, building content, conducting keyword research, and more, be sure to check out Wealthy Affiliate!
Have You Experienced Writer’s Block?
If you have experience with this unfortunate phenomenon, I’d love to hear how you overcame it and eventually finished your project. If you’re currently struggling with writer’s block, I’d love to know if any of these techniques prove useful!
Please leave a comment below if you are inspired, perplexed, saddened, or angered by any of the ideas presented above. I welcome any and all comments and will do my best to respond as soon as possible.
I’d also encourage you to share this with others if you found it particularly insightful or helpful. Be sure to tag @ballisterwriting on Facebook or Instagram if you do! The point of social media, after all, is to be SOCIAL! I don’t need followers or likes, but I’d like to contribute to a real conversation about how we continue to improve as a society and as individuals.
Here’s to Unblock-ing!