There you are rested and fresh after a good night’s sleep. Your coffee is in hand, and your laptop is booted up and ready. The day has just begun, and you are eager to start writing. You sit down at your computer to face the awful blank page and all of a sudden you freeze. Your mind becomes empty as your fantastic ideas vanish.
We’ve all been there, and if you haven’t, you’re doing something wrong.
Thankfully, there are many ways to overcome writer’s block. Ask anyone around you and they are bound to give you advice whether it’s good or not. Over the years, I’ve tried many tips and techniques. The following lists the ones I found most useful:
- Use Writing Prompts: I love using writing prompts. It takes the frustration out of picking a topic, and a simple search on the internet will yield thousands of results. Sign up to receive one daily right into your inbox or compile a collection of your own prompts.
When using prompts, I get the best results when I am given a subject for the day instead of trying to pick one myself. Trying to pick one leads to unnecessary time spent searching the internet for that perfect topic, and causes the same problems of not knowing what to write when facing a blank screen. When you’re given an idea, you’ve no choice but to sit and write. There is no decision making or guessing.
Tip: It’s best to do this first thing in the morning, even before your first coffee. It is amazing what your brain can create when it’s still half asleep.
- The Mind Dump: The mind dump is a writing exercise. There is an endless supply of writing activities available, but this one is my favourite. It’s the most successful for tapping into my well of inspiration.
In this exercise, all you need to do is set aside fifteen minutes to sit and write. Find a quiet place with no distractions and pull out that pen and pad of paper or open a blank document in your favourite writing platform. The point is to write quick, free, and open, ignoring punctuation and other proper grammar. It can be personal or business related. Just write everything that pops into your head.
Tip: It may be helpful use a timer handy to keep the exercise short and focused. Be careful to avoid the distraction if you use a cell phone.
- Switch to Observation Mode: This exercise is perfect for focusing your mind. It requires nothing more than finding a spot to sit and letting yourself focus on the things happening around you. There are countless places you could go.
Once you have chosen your spot, go there and watch. It is that simple. Perhaps you go to the coffee shop or the mall. Maybe you sit in a park or near a body of water. Observation works best with people to watch. While you are quiet and focused, watch what is happening around you. Use this opportunity to make up stories on what the people are doing, where they came from, or where they’re going.
Tip: It may be helpful to bring a pen and paper to note ideas worth revisiting.
- Read Something: Picking up something to read may seem like an obvious solution, but it’s often overlooked. It’s a straightforward and successful way to get those creative juices flowing. It can be done anywhere or anytime. You don’t even have to leave your computer desk.
Grab your favourite book and a cup of coffee, curl up on the couch or get cozy in bed and just read. What you read doesn’t have to be a book either. It could be a magazine or a comic, a short story or poem. It might even be the newspaper. You could read for fun and entertainment or read for educational purposes such as reading the dictionary. Not only does this help find inspiration, but it also contributes to developing your vocabulary, grammar, and other writing skills.
Tip: Keep the reading material close at hand. When the need to read strikes, you won’t have to hunt for it.
- Take a break: Just walk away from the page and do something else. The break might be ten or fifteen minutes or a whole day. Find out what works best for you and do it.
Whether you do a physical activity like jogging or something relaxing like having a nap, taking a break can be a great way to refresh your mind. It also helps ease any stress and tension. You could try something creative such as drawing, painting, or playing an instrument. You could check off a few items on that to-do list such as doing the dishes, a load of laundry, or if you feel brave, cleaning the bathroom.
Tip: It’s better to limit yourself and to form a plan that way you don’t lose all hope of returning to the task at hand.
Remember, overcoming writer’s block unique to everyone. I believe that the writer’s block you combat this time may not be the same as the one you fight next time. By keeping your mind open to trying new things, you will find what works best for you and your personal writing style and rhythm. Though it may sometimes be challenging and hard to imagine, it will come to an end.
Keep in mind that even the best writers suffer from the same fears and doubts as beginners.
The key is not to give up hope. Keep pushing and moving forward towards your goals in any way you can. One word, one line, one paragraph at a time is all it takes to overcome even the most difficult writer’s block.