This morning I had a massive case of writer’s block and a close friend suggested I write an article about it. Over the years I have developed a few simple techniques for overcoming writers block – here are a few.
What exactly is writer’s block?
If you take a look at the Wiki page on writer’s block you will see that there are many different definitions. Some people consider writer’s block is when society gets in the way of your dreams. Others consider it a side effect of depression. However, for the purpose of this post we will consider that writer’s block is when you simply cannot think of a new idea.
How to overcome writer’s block
1. Get up and get out
Sometimes writer’s block comes when you have been sitting in the same seat looking at the same screen for way too long. The best thing you can do in this situation is get up out of your seat and get out of the office and go for a walk. Sometimes a simple change in scenery is all you need to get over that mental block.
2. Read, read, read
All of the best authors and writers in history did a lot of reading. The best movie makers watch a lot of movies. If you are having trouble getting out some new ideas it is a good idea to read some new material. Look both inside and outside your own industry.
3. Clear your mind
Sometimes the best thing you can do is clear your mind of all the clutter and stress that is floating around. It is these extra thoughts that often create the block. Sometimes writer’s block isn’t about having no thoughts, it is about having too many thoughts.
Meditation is a good way to clear your mind. Take a look at this post for some ideas about relaxing and letting go of your thoughts.
4. Talk to someone else
Sometimes it is a really good idea to get a new perspective on what you are trying to do. Ring up a work colleague or a family member and ask them to help you brain storm for a few moments. Nine times out of ten the person will be thrilled that you called them and the session will end up giving you a few new ideas.
5. Get back to what inspires you
If you think about it there is usually a long term reason you are doing what you are doing. For example, you might want to become a lawyer because you think Alan Shore in Boston Legal is a really good guy. Or you might want to become a doctor because you want to be just like the gals in Grey’s Anatomy. Or maybe you have a more solid motivation!
Whatever inspires you it is a good idea to go back and look at it when you are experiencing writer’s block. When I am struggling to find something to write about here on TDM I like to read a book by the Dalai Lama.
6. Open yourself up
This idea is bordering being a little bit too fruity but sometimes it really does work. Often times one can sit in one’s chair and just open up to the world. Let thoughts and emotions come and go naturally and see what happens. If you are open to all forms of inspiration sometimes an idea will hit you when you least expect it.
This is certainly a better frame of mind to be in than sitting there all tight and agitated that you cannot find anything to write about and are wasting precious writing time. Try opening up and see what inspiration hits you.
7. Just do it
Nike created the best slogan ever. Just do it. When you can’t think of anything to write about, just write. When you can’t think of any new ideas, just write. It doesn’t matter what you write as long as you are writing something. Sooner or later you will get back on track. Just write down everything that comes into your head. This is often called automatic writing.
The other point that the slogan “just do it” brings up is that we often procrastinate in very subtle ways. Sometimes it is because we are spending too much time on Facebook and other times it is because we are tricking ourselves into thinking we aren’t in the right frame of mind to write. Make sure you aren’t procrastinating and just do it.
Conclusion on writer’s block
It is important to remember that writer’s block is not permanent. It will pass. The more frustrated you get the longer it will take to pass. Relax and let your tensions go.
Does anyone have any other tips?
Originally posted on April 11, 2008 @ 3:10 am