Overcoming ‘The Block’

“Nothing will work unless you do.” 

Maya Angelou

To be clear, I don’t exactly believe in such a thing as ‘writer’s block’. There’s no invisible wall that surrounds our minds and creativity, or invisible handcuffs that prevent us from getting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)…

But even I am guilty of using ‘the block’ when I want to excuse my shameless procrastination.

I do think that there are periods where every writer struggles to come up with ideas, inspiration, the will to carry on. This is normal. Fear, stress, boredom and panic can deter a writer for a number of days (or even weeks, months or years)… If we let it.

The fear of being judged, the stress that comes with the amount of writing still left to do, getting bored of your own work, and panicking that you’ll never make it, are all factors in this ‘block’. Especially that of being overwhelmed by thoughts from day-to-day life.

The key is to get the ball rolling, then keep it rolling – however fast or slow.

here’s a quick list of tricks & strategies that might help you get back into the beautiful flow of writing:

  • Get primitive. As unsettling as it may be, disconnect yourself from the temptations of the world wide web. I am 100% guilty of jumping on Twitter (or the sort) every time the words take a pause. Then I realize I haven’t written anything for ten – fifteen (even twenty) minutes, and this makes it harder to get back into the flow. It becomes a vicious cycle. So, put your phone on airplane mode (unless you have kids in school… wouldn’t want to miss an emergency call), log out of all social media accounts, or just disable your Wi-Fi (if you don’t need to do any research or look anything up while writing).
  • Step away from the desk. Sometimes you just need to get up and move your workstation elsewhere; the park, the coffee shop – anywhere that’s not your usual spot. Fresh scenery and a change of atmosphere might trigger your creative juices.
  • Play music. Find a song without words or just some good old ambient noise that matches the current mood/scene of your WIP and keep it on in the background. There are so many times this has helped me get back into the flow. It’s honestly a great way to unlock the creativity within you. Personally, I love listening to pieces by Ludovico Einaudi.
  • Make notes. The moment inspiration strikes and you get that golden nugget of an idea drop into your hands, make note of it. Even if you can’t add into your WIP straight away, it will be there when you’re sitting at your laptop with twitching eyes and fingers, thinking of what to write.
  • Read. It can be a book of a similar genre to the one you’re writing to help you reclaim some of that excitement for your own work. Or, it can be the total opposite to clear your mind of spaceships, dragons, murderers, ghosts or sex… Basically a break from whatever you’re fed up of thinking and writing about.
  • Routine. Develop a routine for when it’s time to write. For example, once I take my kid to school, I put the little one to sleep with a bottle of milk, make a cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate (whatever I’m feeling that day), grab a blanket and my laptop stand, and get comfy in my spot. I do this at noon, Monday through Friday (unless I have an appointment), and take the weekends off. Now my brain has been trained to realize when it’s time to get to workin’. Of course there are those days where I struggle and end up writing 1/4 of what I might write on a ‘good’ day. But routine has definitely helped me keep writing.
  • Just write. Seriously, write anything. It could even be totally unrelated to your WIP. The point is to keep the creativity going. The words are already in you. You just have to let them out.

So, what do you think… Is writer’s block a real thing that you just have to wait out and hope you break free? Or is it something under your control that you can power through?

5 thoughts on “Overcoming ‘The Block’

  1. My usual fix when I feel myself getting stuck is to take a few minutes to freewrite. I take out pen and paper and write for a few minutes. My one rule is that my freewrite has to be completely different from what I’m stuck on. It allows me to exercise the creative part if my mind while ensuring that I don’t fixate on my “block”.

    Liked by 2 people

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