There two schools of thought on writer’s block: writers who believe it exists and writers who believe it doesn’t. I belong to the first group because I keep suffering from it time and time again.
But most posts on beating writer’s block usually assume you’re stuck trying to find a fresh idea angle. However in my experience, writer’s block doesn’t discriminate according to the stage of your project.
It can hit when you are at 0 words, 500, 5000 or 50,0000. It can even catch you mid-sentence.
Recently, I’ve been hit by writer’s block as I was preparing a travel guide for my city. I knew exactly what I was writing about. I had my notes down, and I had written similar articles in the same style, which was the problem.
When you’ve done too much of the same thing, you’re bound to stagnate. And it can make you panic more because you’ve already signed a contract and are on a deadline.
So let’s look at what you might do when you’re struggling with writer’s block during a writing gig.
If you can afford to (more on this with our following tip), just stop writing. Sometimes your brain and your hands need a break from all the thinking, brainstorming and typing.
You writer’s block might simply mean you’re exhausted. And since we all know writing for hours on end while sitting down isn’t the healthiest thing to do, your body and mind will appreciate the break.
You’re allowed to do anything you want, as long as it doesn’t involve writing or obsessing over what you’re supposed to be writing.
Write Something Completely Different
When you have several clients and deadlines, taking a complete writing break as suggested above might not be an option. And maybe it’s not even been that long since you sat at your desk. Maybe your brain just needs a change of focus.
If that’s the case, you can switch to another writing type. Even if all you have to compose are blog posts, switching topics and post types might create all the difference you need to get your writing juices going again.
That said, I’ve found more radical changes more helpful. For instance doing another writing task or working on a personal project can help. If it’s possible, switch from non-fiction to fiction.
The freedom might be all your brain might have been craving for.
Even the most introverted of us need and miss our friends and family. So if you can’t write, and writing is usually the reason we haven’t connected or caught up lately, why not use this opportunity to have some fun and bond more?
You can even cheat a little and ask your friends’ opinion about what you are writing. Varied perspectives can provide great inspiration.
Writer’s block makes us stressed and sometimes even depressed. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never produced my best work when I felt down (unless it was the mood the piece called for).
So what better way to get rid of the negativity by making sure we produce good old-fashioned endorphins?
It doesn’t have to be a brutal workout either. Even 5-10 minutes of light exercise can make wonders. That said, I recommend dancing. You don’t need money or resources to enjoy several of your favorite songs.
It doesn’t have to be anything dirty or extravagant. But it goes a long way in giving you the bigger picture.
For me thinking about past and future holidays works. I’ve also written (in my head) my Oscar acceptance speech, thank you very much.
Play a Video Game
Video games can be as mindless or challenging as you want. As long as you have fun and are distracted about your writing, it is okay. I’m not ashamed to admit it; I still play Pacman. (Yes, I grew up in the 90s.)
Watch a Movie or a TV Show
Watching something fun is one of my favorite means of procrastination, and I find ways to forgive myself if I binge. For one, I write fiction, so it’s actually good for my career if I know what others have produced. It also gives me some fun article ideas.
Do More Research
You’re advised against overdoing it and getting lost in the process. But even if you have all the notes you need, surfing the net a little can give you ideas you haven’t thought of before.
This is not recommended if you’ve already spent a significant amount of time staring at the screen, but reading can definitely motivate and inspire. Just don’t use it as an excuse not to write or question your skills.
Write to Store
Write as much as you can when the inspiration strikes, so you will have less to fear when or if you get blocked.
Take a Nap, or at Least Lie Down and Relax
What better way to clear your head and create space for new thoughts and ideas?
Depending on how much time and energy you have, I recommend using a combination of these strategies. I’ve shared what has worked for me so far. What are your strategies for coping with untimely writer’s block?