The Secret to Beating Writer's Block
Often, we use writer’s block as an excuse to stop when writing gets hard. The secret to beating your writer’s block is to change your mindset and take control of your writing space.
For a long time, I called myself a writer, but I didn’t really write much outside of academic assignments. The excuse I gave myself? I had writer’s block. I couldn’t write because I couldn’t think of what happened next in my story or couldn’t find the right words to begin a new one.
Now I realize that I’d found a false sense of security in claiming that I had writer’s block. So many writers talk about it, so I had honestly thought it was a legitimate excuse for not writing. And while all writers can have times when they struggle to write or generate ideas, writer’s block should never be an excuse to stop writing.
Picture by Steve Johnson on Unsplash.
What Is Writer’s Block, Then?
No, writer’s block is not some mystical ailment that prevents you from writing. And no, it should not be used as an excuse to keep us from practicing our craft, difficult as it might be at times.
Writer’s block, I would argue, can actually take many forms. It can be a little needling thought in the back of your mind or an overwhelming sense of depression or anxiety. However big or small the “block” is, it’s simply an aspect of you that doesn’t want to put forth effort or be creative. That aspect could be mental, emotional, physical, or even spiritual.
For instance, if you’ve been trying to write all day and can’t seem to get a word down but have no problem scrolling through social media or playing your favorite game, you could claim that you have writer’s block. And you do, but that block is actually just a lack of mental focus, not some inability to put words on a page.
Anything that “throws off your groove” or anything that somehow drains you of motivation and passion for writing can be classified as a writer’s block. These blocks are real and difficult to deal with. But they are also made all the more devastating when we succumb to the belief that writer’s block is somehow more powerful than us and that we simply have to “wait it out,” binge watching 17 shows on Netflix while we’re at it.
The truth is, writer’s block is hard to work around, but it is not more powerful than you.
How Do You Beat Writer’s Block?
Just like we all have our own coping methods to deal with a bad day, all writers will have unique approaches to conquering their blocks. The trick is to understand what motivates or inspires you so you can channel your energy into activities that will push you through your block. However, it’s also important to understand what distracts you or discourages you so you can purposefully stay away from any activities that would drag you down and keep your block in place.
For myself, I’ve realized that my phone is a major distraction while I write. Sometimes it helps if I quickly check off my notifications before working, but I can easily get sucked into social media or games, distracting myself even more. That’s why I usually set a firm boundary that I won’t check my phone while I’m working. (It’s even better when I turn my phone off or leave it in a different room.)
I’ve also learned that I usually work best when I give myself a short, manageable to-do list. I feel so accomplished when I cross items off. I have to be careful, though—too many tasks will leave me overwhelmed and unsure of where to start.
There are so many different things that can distract or focus us, but fighting writer’s block often comes down to being more productive. Once you know what boosts your productivity, make a productivity plan and stick to it. Chances are, most of you will find that you can actually push your writer’s block out of the way with productive habits!
Picture by Florian Klauer on Unsplash.
Beyond Productivity Issues
But what if you eliminate every distraction, get yourself in a productive mindset, and still freeze up? It’s okay. We all have tough days. Just like it’s not easy to exercise every day, even if you’ve been working out for years and are in great shape, you can still struggle to write some days even if you’re an experienced writer.
There are a lot of great ways that you can still power through your writer’s block, and there’s no perfect answer. Experiment with new ideas and strategies. Try asking some writing friends what they do to push past their writer’s block.
Next week, I’ll be posting a huge list of different ideas that you can try implementing to conquer your writer’s block. Try out the ones that sound helpful, and when you find the tricks that work for you, commit to keeping these habits and routines in your writing time. If you do, you’ll rarely experience being crippled by writer’s block again.
Practice the Principle
Take some time to honestly reflect about your writing and working habits. What things have helped you stay engaged with the task at hand? What things have distracted you? Is there anything that gets you in a bad mood or gives you negative thoughts? What do you do to brighten your mood?
Make a positive list and a negative list, and then make a plan. Get rid of everything on your negative list in your writing space, and make space for the positive things.
But remember, be honest with yourself. Don’t just say you’ll write better once you’ve relaxed by watching a movie, taking a nap, ordering some pizza, then playing on your phone . . . Take responsibility to not just get comfortable but to work hard and be productive! Be willing to try new things and be creative, because your creativity is what will truly drive your writer’s block away for good.