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Writer’s Block and How to Cope with it

Updated on January 28, 2020
Harley Temple profile image

Harley Temple is a freelance digital artist and writer. She loves anime, food, video games, making comics, and writing novels and articles.

Introduction

Was there ever a time where you were writing a story and you just...got stuck? Maybe you started a new chapter and don't know what should happen next or you were in the middle of writing a chapter and had the fear that the chapter wouldn't make sense to the rest of the storyline, or maybe you finished a chapter but then started thinking that the people reading it won’t like how it turned out? If so, you're going through a phenomenon known as Writer's Block.

What is Writer’s Block?

Writer’s Block is a temporary (or permanent if you’ve already given up) condition in which a writer gets stuck, whether they don’t know what to write or they don’t know how to proceed with writing. Pretty much every writer has gone through this at least once when writing as story, and the people going through it may find it frustrating and even overwhelming to go through, but overcoming it can be fairly easy by using a few helpful techniques.

The 5 types of Writer’s Block

Before I get to the 5 types of Writer’s Block, it want to say right now that this article applies for people who write online or who like to write fanfiction, but any other writer can use these techniques to their will, too. These are the 5 types of Writer's Block:

  • Perfectionism: Maybe you had the perfect idea in your head and you want it to appear just right in your story, but you just can’t execute it the exact same way that you did in your head. This form of Writer’s Block is probably the easiest to overcome.
  • Forgetfulness/Distractions: Maybe you had some ideas in your head, then all of a sudden, you forgot what they were, or there’s something that’s distracting you, causing you to forget what you were about to write about. This is common in people who are very forgetful or focused on other things more than their writing.
  • Cluelessness: If you’re someone who’s a slow thinker and/or slow at coming up with ideas, then you may be suffering from this form of Writer’s Block. This may occur more often if your brain isn’t functioning to its full potential.
  • Business: Maybe you're heavily focused on other things, such as schoolwork or your job, that you just don’t have the time to write your story. This is especially common in writers who are in high school or who have a full-time job, so they don't have that much free time to themselves.This is another common cause of Writer's block behind fear.
  • Fear: This is probably the most common causes of Writer's Block in many writers. Many fear that their ideas may not be appreciated by people who read their stories since they’re publishing it for the world to see and critique, and because of this, they're afraid to continue forward. This form of Writer’s Block is probably the hardest to overcome, and if this keeps happening, then the person may never become a writer.

What are some coping mechanisms for Writer’s Block?

For each form of Writer’s Block, I have a few different coping mechanisms, which may or may not work depending on which form of the condition you’re suffering from. The amount of time it takes for these methods to cure the Writer’s Block varies from person to person, and depending on which form(s) of it you have, it should be fairly easy to overcome.These coping mechanisms are most recommended for each specific form of Writer’s Block that you have.

Perfectionism:

  • Remember that not everything has to be perfect; nothing is perfect when it comes to writing.

  • You can try reading other people’s stories; maybe you’ll find a few imperfect elements in the story, such as a bunch of typos or a scene that doesn’t make any sense. This will probably convince you that not everything in a story has to be perfect, so long as people like and understand it.

Forgetfulness/Distractions:

  • If you have in idea in mind and you know you’re going to forget it the next day, I recommend writing down what’s on your mind while it’s still there; that way, the next moment, you can read through it and by doing so a few times, it will help you memorize it better.

  • If there’s anything surrounding you that distracts you from writing anything, make sure to eliminate all of those distractions by moving somewhere quiet and empty. This helps because there’s nothing in your surroundings that will gain your attention so now you can be focused on your story and only your story.

Cluelessness:

  • You can try skimming through other people’s stories; maybe a scene in that story will gain your attention, thus giving you a clue on what you can write about.

  • You can also try watching a TV show or play a video game that you really like. Maybe you really like its/their storyline(s) and would like to replicate them in some way.

  • Try reminiscing about some of your life experiences; how was school like back in 2nd grade? Who was your first crush? How did you cope with a loved one that has passed away? Maybe you can write a similar story based on your life experiences.

  • The idea is to get inspired: try going outside for a walk, looking at your surrounding, or even do a few karate moves. What these can do is give you clues or ideas on what to write about.

  • If you really can’t think of anything, try doing the following: eat/drink/suck on anything minty, sniff in some essential oil, drink a cup of coffee, tea, or water, take a warm bath/shower, and/or eat something that will fill you up. By doing these (especially in the morning when you’re just waking up), your brain will function better throughout the rest of the day and you’ll also have the physical energy you need to feel good.

  • If you need some extra help, you can consider requesting a collab with another writer you like. Hopefully they’ll accept your request and you can help each other out with story ideas.

Business:

  • If you’re that busy, make sure to finish as much as you need to before writing, even if it takes a few days to do so.

  • The idea is to take your time and be patient; do what’s most important first before doing what’s not-so-important. Here’s a quote that I like to repeat to myself while working on other things:

“Patience is a warrior’s greatest weapon.”

— Damas, Jak 3
  • If you have the weekend off of school or work, you can use that time to work on your story.

  • Once you get your free-time, if you’re stressed out about work or school, you can listen to some calm, soothing music that will help keep you focused on what you want to do instead of what you’re worrying about.

Fear:

  • Try reading other people’s stories and the critiques that they receive, you'll notice that if it has received any criticism, that it’s usually constructive criticism. This is used to help the writer to improve their story so that everyone will like it. Maybe you will get a clue and make changes to your story before you publish it.

  • You can write an Author’s Note at the beginning of your story saying that you will only accept constructive criticism for your story. You can also convince them not to hate on it if that helps, too.

  • If you do receive a critique on your work, you can reply to whoever sent it by thanking them for the critique and, if it contains constructive criticism, tell them how you’re going to improve the story. This may give you the motivation and self-confidence to continue forward with the story.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, these are just suggestions on how to cope with your writer’s block. Even if this didn’t help you, I hope you at least found some better coping mechanisms and maybe even got some inspiration to continue on forward with your dream of becoming a writer. As a newbie myself, it takes me time to cope with writer’s block, but I’m still trying my best.

© 2020 Harley Temple

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    • Bushra Iqbal profile image

      Aishatu Ali 

      2 months ago from Rabwah, Pakistan

      Good article! Thank you for an informative and well-written read.

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