- the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.
It’s been a while, I know. Let’s talk about where I’ve been!
Well, aside from the horror that is finals week, I’ve found myself in a bit of a slump. Writer’s block has been chasing at my heels all semester and it finally caught up with me. So, to fight it I thought I’d expose it for what it is, why it happens, and some good ways to beat it.
What is writer’s block?
To be quite literal, writer’s block is just lacking the motivation and/or inspiration to write. It’s that moment when you sit down to write and absolutely nothing comes to mind. You just sit there, hands hovering over the keys patiently awaiting the command to begin, and your brain just goes blank.
Getting stuck in writer’s block doesn’t make you a bad writer. Inspiration is fleeting for everyone actually, even those who don’t write. Artists, musicians, influencers, anyone who’s career/hobby rests on their creativity will experience a lapse in creative inspiration every once and awhile, and this is totally normal!
Inspiration is a picky little monster that doesn’t like to take commands. He crawls around in your head giving out all the best ideas in the shower, at one AM when you’re half asleep, or when you’re miles away from home with nothing to write with. Generally, when you say “Hey inspiration, I’m sitting in favorite spot with a blank word document and hours free, can you help me out?” is the exact moment he decides to take a nap.
Ok, weird metaphor, but you get the picture.
Why does writer’s block happen?
Writer’s block isn’t a set formula, but here are some things that could cause it!
I’m sure we’ve all heard the same advice, every novice writer has either read this online or heard it straight from the lips of someone they admire: Write every day. Write every. Single. Day.
No offence to those writers, but for most of us this is this the quickest road to writers block. It may work for the 1% of people who have a fresh idea every day, but the rest of aren’t so lucky.
Sitting and writing every single day is draining, and just not good for moral or creative flow. Unless you’ve tested it and works really well for you, I wouldn’t suggest it. Like anything being done every single day, you’ll get burnt out, and eventually start to get discouraged when you run out energy and ideas.
On the other side of the spectrum, you may not be getting enough practice. If you’re not writing at all, you may start to get in the habit of it. It’s like sports, if you spend enough time without practicing, you lose muscle memory, everything gets stiff and underused. You’re brain is muscle, so why not exercise it?
Not taking care of yourself in other parts of your life can lead to a lack of motivation as well. If you’re depressed, or just exhausted and in a rut, you’re much less likely to be coming up with fresh, innovative ideas.
How can you fight writer’s block?
I hear you saying “Ok Halli, if my inspiration is a little monster can I control it?” And the answer is yes! There are things you can do to avoid writer’s block and keep the good ideas coming.
- Take breaks: Whether that be an hour or a month, take as much time as you need to let inspiration come naturally. Writing should never be a chore, because your readers will notice when there’s no passion behind what you’re writing. When writing becomes something you’re doing just to check it off of a list, you’re harming yourself more than you’re learning.
- Read: Read work from writers who inspire you. Whether that’s a person you’d like to emulate the style of, or just a writer that you enjoy reading, it’s always a good idea to fill up as much as you’re pouring out. Some author’s have even published their writing tips, which is a good source for reading and learning!
- Keep a journal of ideas: Don’t trust yourself to remember that thing you thought of at three AM, trust me, you’re not going to. It’s best to keep a journal of ideas and inspiration, so when writer’s block hits you have something to fall back on.
- Self care: Take care of yourself in every way, not just when it comes to writing. Taking care of your mental and physical health is just as important, how can you write if you’re not motivated and healthy?
- Freewriting: Practice! Freewriting is just a stream of consciousness writing style that gets everything out of your head, no editing, no backspacing, just word vomit. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find an idea in there you didn’t know you had.
So I’ve shared what writer’s block looks like for me, what does it look like for you? What do you think causes you to have writer’s block most often? and most importantly, how do you fight against it?
Writer’s block is only a bump in the road, and we still have miles to go!