Every writer, at some point, experiences writer’s block. You have an important document, article, assignment or report to write but, for some reason, you can’t seem to get started or you get stuck mid thought…
Put simply, writer’s block is when a writer loses the ability to produce new work or they experience a creative slowdown. Even we master wordsmiths at Intelligent Ink suffer from writer’s block from time to time. So, we have pulled together some of our best tips and tricks for overcoming writer’s block to craft an exquisite piece of writing:
1. Write it out
One way to overcome writer’s block is to just keep putting things down on paper, even if they aren’t relevant or they don’t seem to make sense. Sometimes just writing whatever comes to mind will help you to get into the flow and get the creative juices flowing. Some studies have found that writers get blocked because they fear judgement or not getting it right. The best way to overcome this form of writer’s block is by writing through it.
2. Experiment and make mistakes
Try writing something for yourself, like a private diary, a dream journal, a story or a brainstorm. They don’t have to be for any particular reason or for anyone to see, but allowing yourself an escape from structured and pressured writing can give your mind the freedom it needs explore and conjure up what others may find ludicrous and unrelated. Researchers have found that experimentation with ones writing and making mistakes is integral for overcoming writer’s block. So, if you can’t write what you should, try writing something that you shouldn’t.
3. Remember that the beginning isn’t always the best place to start
For many writers, simply starting is the hardest part. If you find you struggle with the introduction, first paragraph or first chapters, try skipping those and come back to them. Instead, try writing whatever section you find most compelling first. Sometimes writing the body of an article first can help you to better figure out and define what you are doing. Some writers never know where they’re going until they reach their destination; in fact, there are many well-known authors who knew the ending to their stories before they began.
4. Take a break in the middle
It might seem more logical to write until you reach the end of an idea, scene or section, however this logical approach can make it difficult to recommence writing the next day, because you have to find a completely new train of thought to jump on. Ernest Hemingway always said, “write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next.” By stopping in the middle of a thought or section it will make it easier for you to get your momentum back the next day, as you will have a better idea of what to write next.
5. Fool yourself
Some writers can feel blocked when they have a mountain of writing ahead of them. It’s natural to find the prospect of writing an entire article, story or chapter from scratch incredibly daunting. The best way to conquer such a mountain if it’s blocking your flow is to chip away at it by setting and completing baby goals. By setting little goals like, “just turn on the computer,” “just open Word,” “just write one sentence,” etc., you will fool yourself into slowly making progress on what may have, at first, seemed like a monstrous task. Quite often if you tell yourself that you just need to write for five minutes, chances are you’ll end up writing for much longer as you’ll get your groove going.
6. Set a smaller time window
Researchers also suggest restricting yourself to just two or three hours for writing something, as opposed to setting aside a whole day. Chances are that if you designate a whole day, you’ll come up with excuses to slack off. It’s much easier to focus your energy, block out distractions and maximise your productivity for two hours than it is for a whole day. Moreover, if you force yourself to write for several hours, you will probably find that work done in the last few hours will need to be redone anyway.
7. If it doesn’t work, let it go
Sometimes there is a pesky section or idea that you just can’t get to work. If you encounter this, and it’s blocking your flow, it might just not be right. Try considering if the troublesome paragraph or sentence is necessary. If it isn’t then just cut it out.
8. Take a break and come back to it
If you’re having trouble with an idea, paragraph or section and it really is essential, try taking a break and coming back to it. If it’s not working, stop trying to force it and instead go for a walk, get a coffee, have some food or just get out of the office. This can help you to de-stress and increase feelings of happiness, which makes your brain work better. When you come back to it you’ll be feeling refreshed and better equipped to tackle the trouble part.
9. Write the way that suits you
As a writer, it’s important that you don’t let anyone prescribe how you should write. Every writer has different preferences and strategies that help them to write effectively, for example some prefer writing drafts by hand, some work best in the morning, whilst others like to write at night. Moreover, some writers like to write on a treadmill, outside, sitting down, standing up or lying in bed. When it comes to writing, there are really no rules as to how to do it (except that you may be somewhat constrained in your work environment!) As much as you can, trust your unique creative process.