5 Ways to Help Overcome Writer’s Block
Ah, writer’s block. A writers greatest and most persistent foe, right next to stiff fingers and dreams where we’ve thought up a tremendous idea for a story only to forget it by the time we’ve woken. Few challenges in a writer’s life can be as frustrating, as maddeningly vexing, as that of sitting before a grand scape of empty white and finding yourself unable to fill it. You feel betrayed by the brain and body you supposedly command, and if prolonged and deep enough, writer’s block has the potential to wipe clean all of a writer’s ambitions with their craft like they were never even there. Thankfully, however, there is hope at the end of this particularly dark tunnel. For there are ways for a writer to help pull themselves out of the pit of blank thoughts and stopped-up words, and if they are persistent enough, put them back to work. Having been through this process far too many times than I am comfortable admitting, here are five ways to help rid oneself of writer’s block I have come to discover are the most effective.
1: Read a Book You Loved as a Child
If you’re anything like me, you likely discovered your love for writing as a young tot. Books fascinated you and transported you places your young brain thought to be impossible, and it is incredibly likely that it was while reading a good book that you wondered if you could try writing something yourself. My advice, then? Go back and rediscover those relics of your writer’s past, and remind yourself why they once meant so much to you. Find that one book all writer’s have that helped them discover as children why they love this writing craft so much (mine was Holes by Louis Sachar) and give it a good thumb through. Wake up some memories, feel the ghost of that passion that was kindled so long ago, and you just might give your perspective on writing the insight it needs to find its footing once more.
2: Spend an Afternoon Somewhere You’ve Never Been
You know that one store you always drive by on the way home from work that you’ve never been inside of? How about that one library or museum downtown you’re always meaning to visit but never do? If you are struggling with writer’s block, I highly suggest you waltz yourself into those locations as quickly as possible. Because sometimes all the brain needs to wake itself from its slumber is to remove it from all the things that it knows and understands. Take your mind to a place it has no memory of, where the walls and the floors and the fire exits are completely new to you. Going to the places you already know often leads to thoughts and ideas you have already had, whereas new places and new memories will often give the mind new avenues of thought to explore. This will do wonders in helping to cure writer’s block, and it has worked for me time and time again.
3: People Watch
So this idea is not exactly new, as it has been suggested to me dozens of times, but that does not mean its not effective. Sometimes all that you need to reignite curiosity and get the words flowing on the page once more is to stumble across some individual or snippet of conversation that strikes you as interesting. Hang out at your local shopping mall or well populated park, for example, with the only goal being to listen and observe all that is happening around you. Listen for stories shared by total strangers, look for eccentricities in people you’ve never met before, and keep yourself open enough to receive all that may come your way. You might just find your next great source of inspiration.
4: Do Something Totally Mindless
Sometimes all the brain needs is to simply turn itself off for awhile and reboot itself back to shape. The mind, like any part of the body, sometimes just runs itself too hot and too ragged that the best cure for it is the chance to rest and cool itself off. It is this same approach that could very well help get a writer out of the oppressive grasp of writer’s block. Turn on some wonderfully garbage television (there is certainly no shortage of that) while reading your favorite gossip rag. Watch some meaningless time wasting videos on the internet, take an online quiz telling you what fruit you most identify with, or practice your most annoying noise to the delight of those around you. Whatever it is, make sure that it takes up as little energy from your brain as humanly possible. Your brain, and thus your writing, will thank you for it.
5: Do Not Give Up
This one may be a little to general, but it is still nonetheless the truest and most meaningful way one can find themselves cured of writer’s block. When we sit at our desks and try to put down words that simply refuse to come, we are too often tempted to give up. Throw in the towel. Accept that your writing is doomed to suffer in this realm of inaction forever. This, I assure you, must be avoided at all costs. Always be willing to sit back down and give it another go, always be willing to give yourself just one more shot, and always remember that the only thing that makes a writer is the willingness to, you know, write. So push through, grab those words by their heels and drag them into the light of day, and no matter how slowly or how painfully, get that writing done. No other tip or trick will ring with any truth if you are not prepared to do the hard work that needs doing.