If you write, I’m sure you’re well-acquainted with dear old Writer’s Block. He shows up when you don’t want him to and stays way past his welcome. So rude, right?
It feels like I’ve always been well-acquainted with writer’s block. Whether it was essays for classes or writing for fun, there was always something trying to stop me. I’d either feel like I was out of ideas or didn’t know how to start. I still get stuck now, and I’m sure it’s not something that goes away.
Fortunately, this can be treated! Here are some tips to help push through this blockage. They are all tactics I personally use. (I cannot guarantee a 100% success rate.)
Listen to [different] music.
What do you usually listen to when you’re writing? If you’re having trouble getting started or continuing an idea, try changing up your music. If you typically listen to instrumental, try something with lyrics. If you listen to any music, try nature sounds. Try turning off the TV if you write while you watch, or try total silence if you’re used to having noise.
You can also try a different source of music. I’m an avid user of Spotify and will swear by it until I die, but sometimes when I feel like I’m in a rut, I’ll look for instrumental music on YouTube to get some new ideas. The smallest change can really help me out.
Journal for 10-20 minutes.
Sometimes writer’s block is just a form of procrastination. If you find yourself unable to write what needs to be written for work or school, try writing about yourself. Grab a journal or a Google Doc and treat it like a diary page – complain, write down the dream you had last night in vivid detail, or write about what you should be writing. Once you get into the flow of writing, it should be much easier for you to work on more important things.
This one isn’t recommended if you’re under a tight deadline or lack self-control. I’ve learned that sometimes the best way to combat writer’s block is to walk away from the project for a bit. This can easily turn into putting it off for longer than intended, so be careful! Taking a break from the project will give you time to rest and think about it, which will likely allow you to brainstorm new ideas.
If you’re worried about time and procrastination, walk away literally. Take a walk for 30 – 60 minutes outside. I’m able to get a lot of deep thinking done when I take a walk alone. It’s definitely a great boost in productivity in the afternoon!
Commit to a specific length of time.
Setting a time limit for a writing session will create a sense of pressure that will hopefully aid you in writing yourself out of your writer’s block. Set a timer for however long you need, even if it’s only fifteen minutes. Once the timer begins, don’t do anything but write! If you have to get up, pause the timer so you’ll be able to come back and fulfill the requirement you made. Setting a timer and not following through defeats the purpose.
Create the perfect writing environment.
Before you sit down to write, make your writing area fully stocked and ready to go so you won’t feel the need to get up in the middle of it. This tip works well with the previous one of setting a timer. Use the bathroom beforehand, have a couple of snacks right there with you along with something to drink, and make sure you have enough of your writing tools, whether that’s a fully charged battery or paper and ink.
Make sure your timer is set correctly and your music is loaded up fully before you begin writing, as well. If you’re the kind of person that gets easily distracted by background programs you’re working with, this is super important. I often get distracted just to make sure good music is queued up or that my timer will indeed stop after one hour, so I try to make sure those things are taken care of before I start writing. Also, be sure to silence your devices!
To create the perfect writing environment, know your weaknesses, and how to prevent them!
How do you overcome writer’s block? Changing my routine is always helpful, so I’m happy to hear your advice.