Whether you’re a student, aspiring writer, or bestselling author, chances are you’ve dealt with writer’s block at least once in your life. The phenomenon is so pervasive that a quick internet search will return millions of expert opinions and advice. Even neurologists have chimed in on the issue, connecting writer’s block to perfectionism – or, as Anne Lamott called it in her famous book on writing Bird by Bird, “the voice of the oppressor” that keeps you “cramped and insane your whole life.” The good news is that we’ve compiled five easy and effective strategies that you can start using right now to get your creative juices flowing again.
Walk away and take a break
This first strategy may seem counterproductive, but sometimes the best way to start writing again is to stop for a bit. When you’ve been buried in a story for a long time, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Taking a break lets you come back to your writing with fresh eyes and catch certain mistakes you missed earlier.
By the same logic, if you’ve been indoors for while, go outside and take a walk. Not only will the fresh air be refreshing, the change in scenery may help inspire new ideas or give you a new perspective on old ones. But don’t just wander around aimlessly. Take advantage of this time to meditate, appreciate your surroundings, or eat — whatever your body and mind need to recharge and refuel.
Throw yourself into another creative activity
Inspiration usually hits us when we least expect it and almost never when we’re actively searching for it. If you’re experiencing writer’s block, try stimulating your brain in other creative ways. When you get involved with another activity that allows you to express yourself — or even better, an activity you genuinely love — there’s less pressure to be creative in one specific way. The next time you feel stuck at your desk or computer, try dancing, drawing, or sewing instead. You may be surprised by what you come up with for your story, even when you’re not explicitly thinking about it.
Try freewriting for at least 15 minutes
Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members, once said, “The only way to write well is sometimes to write badly at first.” Freewriting is a popular technique in which you write without stopping for a set period of time. The key is to keep writing no matter what and disregard spelling, grammar, topic, and style.
If you’re a perfectionist, freewriting is the one strategy on this list you should try. The technique is designed to help people overcome harsh self-criticism and fears of failure — both of which contribute to writer’s block in the first place. Instead of judging yourself for an idea before it’s even on paper, try freewriting next time you’re feeling stuck.
Talk it out with someone
Similar to participating in a writing workshop, talking to someone about your ideas is a constructive way to get feedback. You may even want to record your conversation so you can go back and revisit any important points later when you’re writing. Not only can talking help you express ideas that were hard to put on paper, a fresh pair of ears will hear issues you can’t and help you understand how your story is coming off to a reader.
Ask yourself: Why do I want to write this story?
Sometimes, writer’s block is a sign that your heart’s just not in the story you’re writing , especially if you’ve been feeling stuck for an extended period of time. If you find yourself in this situation, take some time to examine your motives for writing the story in the first place. Revisiting this tough but necessary question may help you realize it’s time to move onto a topic worth your time, or it may help you zero in on how to take your story in the right direction.
What other strategies do you have to get over Writer’s Block? Tell us in the comments below!
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