How To Overcome Writer’s Block
Starting at a blank page
When many of us sit down to write, we feel nothing. There is no one secret on how to overcome writer’s block. It’s about perspective and production. Of course, when there is no flow of ideas, no excitement, no passion. The page is a void. It is just blank and empty.
It’s important to remember a quote by Mark Twain: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
So here’s my long letter on overcoming writer’s block: it doesn’t exist! That’s right—there is no such thing as writer’s block or any other kind of mental block that prevents you from getting words onto the page (or screen).
Actually, it may seem like there is something stopping you from writing but it’s more likely that you simply don’t want to write at that moment because your brain has chosen not to cooperate with your efforts at creating something new from nothing (which requires effort).
But if you keep trying in spite of feeling stuck at some point you will break through into another state where everything becomes easy again—this is called Flow
The first step is to understand that writer’s block is a myth.
First, let’s understand that writer’s block is a myth. It’s not an actual thing that happens to you when you’re writing; it’s a psychological problem and/or a symptom of some deeper problem.
Perhaps the most common causes of writer’s block stem from fear—fear of failure, fear of success, or both.
As a matter of fact, the more successful you become as an artist (writer), the harder it becomes for you to face your fears about failing or succeeding because those fears have very real consequences for your life and career if they were allowed to take root in your psyche.
Choose the right environment to write in.
The environment in which you choose to write will have a huge impact on the quality of your writing.
It’s imperative that you choose an environment that will help you feel inspired, comfortable, and safe.
There are several things to consider when choosing where to work:
- Location—You may want to write at home or in a coffee shop, but if you’re trying to use different locations for different purposes (like revising versus brainstorming), then it’s helpful for those locations not be close together. You could also consider working from various places around town, or different rooms, as part of your research process!
- Noise level—A quiet room with no distractions is ideal since this allows us all our focus on what we’re doing without being distracted by outside noises like cars passing by or other people talking nearby. However, sometimes it can be helpful too if there’s some background noise going on such as music playing softly in another room so that it feels less lonely while working alone quietly at home after everyone else leaves for work/school each morning etcetera ad infinitum et cetera until eternity ends.”
If You can’t start, write about why you can’t start.
If you’ve been struggling to start writing, this is your golden opportunity. Use that time and energy to write about why you can’t seem to get started.
Write about the fear of failure. Write about the fear of success. Write about the fear of not being good enough, or not being able to write anything at all.
If it helps, think back on something similar that happened in your past and use that as an example for how you managed (or didn’t manage) whatever situation came up then—and what kind of results it produced for you in the end.
With this in mind, if nothing comes up immediately, try imagining an analogous situation that might arise if there were no writer’s block in front of me right now—for example:
What would happen if I wrote something terrible? What would happen if I had my best idea ever? What would happen if I got nothing done at all today? And so on…
Find an excuse to write by adopting the morning pages routine.
In 1999, Julia Cameron published The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. In it, she describes the morning pages routine, a habit that can help you get your creative juices flowing.
The idea is simple: every day, without fail (unless you’re sick or something comes up), sit down and write three pages of anything—no matter how silly or boring—in a notebook with a pen or pencil. You don’t have to read what you’ve written; just let yourself spill out onto the page whatever’s in your head at that moment.
The morning pages routine has been around for centuries and is widely credited with helping writers like JK Rowling get through their own periods of writer’s block.
It works because it forces us out of our heads and onto paper.
Furthermore, by removing all expectations from our writing process we find ourselves free from any self-imposed pressure to be perfect or produce something of value right away—and this freedom allows us more room for creativity and inspiration.
If we were just sitting around waiting for those two things suddenly appear on their own accord!
When you’re feeling frustrated, go for a walk.
The next time you find yourself struggling to get any work done, take a break. Go for a walk outside, or if you can’t stray too far from your desk, at least get-up and move around as often as possible throughout the day.
When you’re feeling frustrated, taking some time away from your writing can help ease frustration and give you a fresh perspective on the problem.
Getting some exercise feels good on its own (who doesn’t want to be more fit?) but it also acts as an excellent reset button for your brain when it’s overloaded with all of those pesky writer’s block symptoms like negative self-talk or procrastination.
Write for one hour with no breaks.
You need to write for one hour, straight through.
- Don’t stop for anything.
- Don’t check your email
- Don’t make a cup of coffee.
- Don’t talk to anyone (unless they are here to help you with your writing).
- Do not stop until the hour is up and you have produced at least 600 words!
Write without a goal, just because it feels good to do so.
- Write without a goal, just because it feels good to do so.
- Don’t worry about what you’re writing.
- Don’t worry about the quality of your writing (spelling, grammar).
- Don’t worry about what you’re writing about or how long it takes to write.
Write from your heart and everything else will follow.
When you write from your heart, you are doing more than just writing. You are creating something that is unique and personal to you. It’s not a formulaic approach or an attempt at replicating someone else’s success (which we have all been guilty of).
When you write what comes naturally to you—the way it feels in your gut, soul and heart—everything else will follow.
You can do this by being yourself: what do you know? What do love? Write about it!
You can train yourself to overcome writer’s block.
You can train yourself to overcome writer’s block. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
That sounds like a bold claim, but I think it’s true. In fact, I know that writing every day without worrying about the quality or quantity of your work will make you a better writer in the long run.
The only way to get over writer’s block is by doing it consistently—and if you’re struggling with motivation when writing, then what better way to motivate yourself than by setting goals?
It’s time to overcome writer’s block for good now
Finally, the key to overcoming writer’s block for good is to understand that it’s a myth.
We have all felt the frustration of not being able to write, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
When you are writing, you are managing and producing thoughts. By using some of the techniques above you will be able to push through your writer’s block and keep on writing!