Is Writer’s Block Real?
There’s no such thing as writer’s block.
Most folks fall into one of two camps – they believe the above statement is either true or false.
I straddle the line.
There are times when writing is hard. Whether it’s finding a topic about which to write or giving shape to an idea, it’s pretty easy to be at a complete loss for words. And if you don’t know how to get yourself out of a writing black hole, it can feel hopeless.
Spur your creativity. Get a writing prompt right now.
Individuals who overcome writer’s block have one thing in common – they pull up their big girl or big boy pants and get to work.
How they do so differs widely. Google “How to overcome writer’s block” and you’ll get millions of answers. In a webinar a few years back, a writer explained how he would pretend there was a gun to his head that would go off if he didn’t finish. I’ve heard some ladies take walks and others go for drives. Some people like to workout, do the dishes or tidy their office.
The following five tactics are what works for me. Sometimes I have to try all five before I finally get in my groove for the day. Will they work for you? Maybe. The only way to find out is to woman up and just do it.
5 Ways to Kick Writer’s Block to the Curb
We weren’t a bath-taking house. I took my first shower when I was just days old – my squishy baby body clasped firmly in my dad’s strong hands. Perhaps that’s why I find the shower such a calm and comforting place.
When I’m having a hard time getting a piece started, I’ll often hop into a hot shower – with a pen and paper. In fact, most of my best pieces have started while I’m standing in the steam.
INSIDER TIP: To date, the best pen-paper-steam combo I’ve found is Paper Mate Flair pens and standard printer paper. This seems to provide the most consistent ink flow with minimal smearing.
It’s crazy to me just how hard it is to work when I’m tired. And it’s amazing how creative my mind can be while I sleep.
When I’m feeling so exhausted I can hardly think straight, I’ll take a short nap. Sometimes just 20 minutes. The downtime gives me the juice I need to get to work. Plus, I often wake up with a new idea about how to approach a piece.
Reading, in general, helps me overcome writer’s block. It’s one of the reasons I set a goal for myself this year to read for at least 30 minutes a day. (It’s so easy to get busy and let it slip that this year I’ve put my reading time on my calendar.)
Beyond just daily reading sessions, I rely on a few go-to kickstarters when I’m feeling uninspired. Typically, these are short pieces that feature an amazing voice and fantastic descriptions. One of my favorites is Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life. I’m also partial to The New York Times “36 Hours” series, Molly Yeh’s blog ‘My Name is Yeh,” and my husband’s old WIRED issues.
Pen & Paper
I know some writers who love to start drafts on the computer. Sometimes I’m right there with them. When things are just flowing, it saves a lot of time. But if you’re stuck, staring at a blank screen doesn’t do anyone any good.
There might be some science behind it, but all I know is my words flow more easily when I use pen and paper. NOT PENCILS! Pens people. Permanent pens don’t allow you to ho and hum over your word choice as you erase.
Starting Where I Can
No rule says you have to write the opening lines first. If you’ve conceptualized part of a piece, start there. The sentences don’t need to be complete. The words don’t need to be spelled correctly. Your punctuation can be utter craziness. The key is to get something down. Worry about all the grammar and such on the second and third draft.