Writer’s block is the bane of every author’s existence. You can be cranking out content and rocking deadlines one minute and then staring at a blank screen the next. Desperately trying to remember why you chose such an exhausting career in the first place. It is a horrible occurrence; one that writers go through far too often— I included; which is what inspired me to create this quick guide! I wish I could promise that reading this post will cure writer’s block forever, but that would be false advertising. Writer’s block is a form of burn-out. And unless you are some type of self-aware robot, you will experience burn-out again. It is part of being human. But just because I can’t eliminate writer’s block, doesn’t mean I can’t be of any assistance at all. The strategies I am about to share with you have helped me get through writer’s block time and time again. And I’m certain that they will help you as well! So, “how do you fix writer’s block,” you ask? The answer lies in these five simple steps.
Permit Yourself to Feel Frustrated
When we fail to accomplish a goal, it is natural to feel frustrated and even a little angry with ourselves. But just because this feeling is natural, doesn’t mean we immediately recognize it to be so. In truth, the reason why we get so upset is that we think there is something wrong with that. This usually occurs when we set our expectations too high, and we feel that we should never experience set-backs in our daily lives. This might be a hard thing to admit to you, I know it was for me, but whether we like it or not we are human. And being human means that we are going to make mistakes and experience the occasional bout of frustration. So don’t try to fight it. Just take a deep breath and allow the emotions to pass through you. Try lying back in a chair, and wrapping your arms around you. This is called self-love. Sometimes the only person, who can understand exactly what you are going through, is you.
Therefore, you need to treat yourself with respect and give yourself some love and understanding. When you are feeling more relaxed you can focus on giving yourself some validation. Acknowledge that you are feeling frustrated or angry, and remind yourself that this is okay. Of course, you are feeling angry! You have your heart set on accomplishing a goal and writer’s block (or burn-out if you prefer) is preventing you from accomplishing this goal. But it’s alright. What you are feeling is natural and it will pass.
Write Down What You Are Feeling in the Moment
Now that you have acknowledged your feelings, start writing them down; you can use a digital note app, Microsoft Word, or even a physical journal. You don’t have to write long sentences, it isn’t a book-writing exercise. Your thoughts can be simple point-form notes that clearly describe your emotions. If you want, you can also jot-down the reasons why you are feeling the way you are. Don’t worry about “sounding” judgemental or petty. No one is going to be seeing these notes except you. They are for your eyes only. Writing down what you feel is a great way to flush negative thoughts out of your system. Not very many people do this exercise anymore because they think it is childish, but in reality, it is a very normal and healthy way to deal with your frustrations. And if this exercise is making you feel childish — that is something to write down! I bet acknowledging that feeling will help make it disappear.
Am I sounding annoying yet? 😉
Take a Shower
Long hot showers may not help with your hydro (or electric) bill, but they can do wonders for your mental health! The combination of warm water and steam is the perfect remedy for easing most stresses — including writer’s block! For example, after I sit down in my shower stall (yes, I have a stall) I let small amounts of hot water flow down my back and I lean against the sturdy wall and close my eyes. After a few moments of completely letting go and forgetting about the outside world, creative thoughts often start coming to me. Sometimes all at once; this may sound a tad overwhelming but my soothing surroundings keep the anxiety at bay. And I’m able to just acknowledge and enjoy my new-found creative energy. If I am being completely honest with myself, and with you, some of the best writing ideas I have ever had come to me in the shower. You might think that this is a frustrating event because the ideas could just slip away as soon as I get out of the shower right? Well, this used to be true until I discovered waterproof journals and pens by Rite in the Rain.
These journals, and their writing utensils, were specifically designed to survive all weather conditions. Professional journalists use them and now — so do I! I keep my waterproof pad and pen on my shower ledge so it is right beside me throughout my entire showering experience. If a creative thought starts coming to me while I relax, I just take a moment to write it down and then go right back relaxing. It’s heaven! The best part about this whole arrangement is you don’t have to look at the ideas until you are ready to start writing again. The journal can just stay hidden in the bathroom out of sight until you feel the urge to type!
Try Creative Visualization
This exercise is tons of fun. Especially if you are a cartoon-buff; usually, creative visualization is done through guided meditation, but I like to do it a bit differently. Try lying down with your head resting comfortably on a pillow, close your eyes, and visualize your favourite cartoon character. It doesn’t matter if the character is from a film, TV show, or comic book, the only thing that matters is their appearance. If you know the character well, you will be able to see them clearly in your mind. Once they are fixed in your memory, start adding to the image. Add your colours, patterns, clothes, accessories or whatever else you like! Just dress them up! This fun activity can help you see a story from a different angle.
Experiment with “Fun” Writing
More often than not, writer’s block occurs because you have done nothing but concentrate on writing for work. Writing may be what you love to do, but it can be exhausting when you are consistently writing for other people and not for yourself. When you write for other people there are rules you have to follow, and deadlines you have to meet. This can put a real damper on your creativity, which is why it is very important to take some time to just write for you! It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular either. Just forget about rules and targeting a specific audience. None of that matters now.
Let your imagination run wild: Use big, hard to understand words; mix your tenses just because you can, or create characters that are completely unrealistic. Letting go in this way can really help get the creative juices flowing. However, I only recommend doing this exercise once you have given all the others a try. If you are too tense, ideas will not come to you. Not even crazy ones!
Did you find this article helpful? If so, feel free to leave a comment below. I would love to hear about your progress.