Is there such a thing as writer’s block?
How often have you simply stared at the computer’s blank screen with the cursor flashing and you don’t seem to make any progress on a piece of writing and there’s a deadline looming? You start wondering if this is the onset of the dreaded writer’s block, something that creatives fear most. Is there such a thing called writer’s block or is it just a hogwash? How come we don’t hear about this condition in other professions? Well, that’s the thing about writing. It is an art and one must find the approach that works best.
What exactly is writer’s block?
You want to write but find yourself at an utter loss of words. You lumber to the kitchen and get a mug of coffee. After a couple of sips, you manage to type a word but immediately use the backspace key and there is again a long pause.
While many seasoned writers have been vulnerable to this conflicted feeling, few others opine it is just a short-term lapse when you run out of ideas. The term Writer’s block was coined by psychoanalyst Edmund Berger in the 1940s. Common reasons include fear of getting the work rejected, spending long hours striving for perfection and digital distraction that might deviate from the actual task of writing.
Getting rid of this debilitating condition is not as hard as one thinks it to be. Here are a few time-tested techniques to bid adieu to writer’s block:
Simple ways to Overcome Writer’s Block
Read well to write well
An effective writer needs to be an avid reader too. Reading the right way will certainly impact your work as quite often we are influenced by the writing in the books we read.
Write in spurts
Carve out some time in your daily schedule to write little by little at intervals. The intermittent act of writing allows you to put down your fresh ideas and you don’t have to see the blank screen every time you get back to the computer or your journal. As writer Jodi Picoult has rightly said “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page”. Once a while, you could draft your piece on a sheet of paper instead of computer. Word document has undoubtedly made writing faster and effective however there is still something exciting about the traditional pen and paper that might facilitate flow of ideas. Why not try using a pen and paper for your mind-mapping, next time.
The phenomenon of free writing lets you write without stopping in a natural rhythm. Keep the writing going in a totally random style. Never mind the spellings, punctuation and the order. Chances are you will collect initial thoughts and ideas on a topic you plan to write. Also called stream of consciousness writing (the most famous example is James Joyce’s Ullyses), this strategy will increase the flow of ideas.
Take a snooze
Lot of research suggests sleep boosts creativity, way more effective than two shots of caffeine. Few minutes of sleep will clear the fog. The key is to have a relaxed and open mind that will help you focus longer.
Take a break
When the mind is constantly brooding instead of writing, it gets overloaded leaving very little room for imaginations to take shape. So, take some time off and finish some chores like laundry or dishes, doodle something you like, bake a cake or walk the dog, even if it means ten minutes and then get back to writing. It activates the creative part of the brain to get you back on track.
Right state of mind
We often convince ourselves that a clutter free environment immensely helps in getting us started with the copy. But that is not really the key and what is more important is a clutter free mind.
It is often the beginning that is more challenging.
“The scariest moment is always just before you start”.Stephen King
And it is crucial to have a positive mindset before you start. Training your mind to be positive will not only alleviate stress but also spur you to outsmart the writer’s block. Once you get past few lines, the rest is a breeze.
And lastly feel assured that writer’s block is a short-lived feeling and will be a thing of past, once you get going. All that is needed is a well thought out preparation and few creative habits. It is not always necessary to set rules, but you can always follow a formula that suits you the best.
What strategies do you follow to break free from writer’s block? Do share with us.
Last month, we introduced #WritingWednesday on The Frangipani Creative. Do join us.