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End Writer's Block Using Confidence

Updated on August 2, 2013
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Great Rhymer Brother Ali on Writer's Block

About Writer's Block

There may be an explanation for why you need that extra glass of wine or glass of whiskey before wheeling off your next epic sonnet.

Writer's block is a function of inhibition, and rarely has anything to do with lack of material. How many times have you conjured up a brilliant idea that has you excitedly telling friends and relatives, only to find zero inspiration once your hands touch a keyboard?

My hypothesis, supported by some academic journals, is that your lack of ability to write creatively at specific times as more to do with anxiety, and entirely less to do with your personal abilities or amount of inspirational material.

In fact, it has more to do with your anatomy than your creativity. According to researcher Rosanne Bane, emotions like fear, anxiety, or ambition cause a "fight or flight" response. This activates the limbic system in the brain.

The limbic activation triggers the type of reaction that might be good for a high speed chase, a football game, or mountain climbing but is hardly conducive to writing a deep allegory. The activation of the limbic system inhibits creativity and stifles logical reflection.

In essence: you will continue to be blocked as long as you are nervous or frustrated, and writer's block can cause anxiety and frustration.


Below are 8 ways to combat the anxiety that causes writer's block:

1. Exercise

Since the limbic system is connected to the "fight or flight' response invoked while engaged in athletic activities, a good way to combat stress is exercise. High intensity exercise- be it a workout video, or a run, or weightlifting/ calisthenics, can burn out the adrenaline-soaked hypertension that's blocking you.

Running and cardiovascular exercise can be even more helpful, as calming chemicals called endorphins are released into the brain, a phenomenon known as "runner's high." Besides, your average writer could use a little treadmill action anyway.

2. Enjoy the Company of a Pet

Studies have shown that quality time with pets can be even more calming than quality time with family. Pets are here for your comfort, and you deserve it after the years of cleaning up crap and paying for fancy food. You can pet your dog, cuddle with your cat, stare intimidatingly at your beta fish, or throw your tarantula on someone unsuspecting. Then return to the keyboard, and hammer out some paragraphs about the fleeting innocence of youth, or an informative piece on vintage mason jars (whatever floats your boat).

Don't Judge Yourself: an EXCELLENT Video

3. Get Spiritual

In my faith, we have an expression called "going vertical." When tribulations and difficulties arise, the best antidote we have is prayer.

So get vertical. Find the calm place in your soul, and reflect from the real base of your understanding. Even the most amateur of writers can produce the strongest content if channeled through the deep water of the soul.

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4. Read

If you don't feel like it would put any pressure on you, go ahead and crack open one of your favorite authors or click over to one of your favorite internet writers.

Look at the material in an inspiring way. If this other author, a mere mortal with flaws and body odor, can produce such great work, you have to like your chances of doing the same! In addition to confidence, the subject matter or the style can create inspiration and calm all at once.

We all know the feeling.
We all know the feeling. | Source

5. Your Back Catalogue

After one of your favorites, the next author that can inspire might be you! Take a look at old journals, writings you did when you were much younger, and articles from that times. If you meditate on the distance between events then and events now, how are you different? How is the world different? What do events and memories mean?

This can bring about a healthy catharsis when writing, and when used with discipline, catharsis can make some mighty spicy material.

6. DO NOT Rely on Others

Some people who struggle with focus think it's a good idea to work with a friend, who will "make" them focus.

This is a terrible idea. Oftentimes, the friend will distract you and themselves from boredom during such a quiet activity.

Or, the friend will think they are helping by badgering you to write at every break for thought that you take. This generates pressure, and causes the limbic system to trigger a fresh round of writers block. Not to mention, you will probably become unfairly annoyed with your friend.

7. Eat a Healthy, Comforting Meal

The human body is in much more of a state of relaxation after the ingestion of certain foods, and they may energize you as well. Fresh fruits and vegetables have been proven to give you energy while lowering that anxiety driven limbic activity.

A healthy meal can be the ideal way to spark a creative process. They call it "brain food" for a reason.

8. Go Ahead, Have a Drink

I do not advocate for pulling a Hemingway and drowning yourself in a fifth of Wild Turkey during every other paragraph.

I do, however, see a benefit in having one relaxing glass of wine, an Irish whiskey, or a rye while relaxing and writing a little. Wine, reds in particular, are nutritious for the body when consumed in moderation. The additional relaxation of inhibitory function can improve relaxation momentarily.

It is very important to be controlled in this manner, as it is not uncommon for authors to like drinking due to their sensitive and introspective nature.

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Some Encouragement

You are a unique, supremely talented individual with a perspective on the world that none has heard before and no one will hear ever again. Every word you craft into a sentence is worthwhile because it's part of your process in becoming a great writer.

Some of what you write will not be as dynamic as other things you write. This is good. Accepting failure, and learning that the world doesn't end when it happens are part of wisdom.

And as writers, we need all the wisdom we can get.


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