Writer’s Block Got You Stalled?
Note from Nick: this is a guest post by Cindy Bates.
Ever had “writer’s block?” All writers experience times when they cannot think of something to write, but it often passes within a few seconds. With writer’s block the feeling is a little more intense and it becomes harder and harder to think of anything to write at all. Here are some tips to help you overcome writer’s block.
1. Get some sleep
You have writer’s block because you are tired. You have it because you are tired. If you are reading this whilst you have writer’s block, then you are tired. Apologies for the repetitiveness, but people with writer’s block are often stubborn and awkward about believing they are tired. If you get some sleep, you will feel better and writer’s block will disappear a little quicker.
Will writer’s block disappear after getting some sleep? It may do, and it may not, but the point is that it will disappear more readily. Imagine you are trying to get a block of ice out of a large plastic container. You can spend your time straining and shaking it upside down, or you can wait for it to melt a little and it will slide right out.
Even getting a quick snooze of about an hour will be enough to help you free your mind a little and get rid of writer’s block. How many times do you get writer’s block in the morning when you have had a good night’s sleep?
2. Drink some coffee or get some form of caffeine
Maybe you cannot go to sleep. Maybe you have a deadline that is due in a few hours, or maybe you are actually at work and cannot sleep on the job. In this case, you will have to resort to what programmers have resorted to for years, and that is to drink coffee or get some caffeine into you some way. This is only a temporary fix of an hour or two, but it may wake you up enough to get you out of your writer’s block.
Programming requires a lot of math, logic and a tremendous amount of problem solving, and they often have their version of writer’s block that can go on for days. They often live on coffee because it keeps them alert whilst doing a sedate job. You may be experiencing a similar problem, which means caffeine may also be your solution.
3. Write a different chapter or different article
Changing the subject completely, or at least changing your focus will help you to continue writing. It may not help you complete the part you were stuck on, but time will help overcome the frustration, and why waste time when you could be writing another section of text.
4. Google it and write notes
Research a little on Google to see if anything inspires you. Skim reading a few articles may be enough to give you a few ideas and get you started. It may expose another way of thinking about what you are writing about, ergo helping you to remove your writer’s block.
5. Give yourself a short break away from where you work
A short break may be all you need. It is often a mental problem over an actual lack of creativity or intellect. It is often a case of you frustrating yourself to the point of being unable to reason and think clearly. Give yourself a short break and some time to clear your mind and remove you emotional burden and you will be fine.
6. Sit with your eyes closed and think about the problem from different angles
There are some great thinkers that used to sit in a dark room and think for hours before coming up with a great idea or great series of ideas. Bill Gates spent two weeks locked in his cabin before coming out and insisting that all future software be Internet friendly.
This was in the days when the Internet was considered annoying and a passing phase. This is back in the days when fax machines were considered far more important than the Internet, and yet Bill Gates predicted the rise of the Internet in the near future because he took some time to think about it.
7. Think of the problem backwards
Flipping your problem is often a great way to help you write about it. For example, if you are writing about ways to halt an addiction to apple cider, then consider writing a few notes about how you may get someone to be addicted to cider.
Maybe you take them to a cider mill, or show them some fancy ciders that are delicious, maybe you have them fall in love with someone obsessed with cider, or maybe you make them lose their job and apologize with cases and cases of cider. Thinking about the problem backwards in a manner such as this may help you come up with some great ideas and break your writer’s block.
8. Copy someone else and twist it
The movie, “iRobot” was just a mixture of the Matrix and Terminator 2. The writers of the movie were lazy, so they copied two great ideas and forged their crappy movie. If you are stuck with severe writer’s block, you can copy the ideas of other people and twist them to make your own works. It is not ideal, but it is better than sitting there for hours without producing anything.
9. Randomly generated words seem to help some people
Having a program produce a bunch of random words for you may help to inspire you to write. It may open up your imagination a little bit, which is good because a long stint of writer’s block will atrophy your imagination and make your problem a whole lot worse.
10. Just write nonsense until the good stuff starts coming
There are times when if you just start writing your brain will take over. When you come to proofread it at a later date, you are able to remove the stuff that is not needed or that makes no sense. It leaves you with the good bits and may help you break your writer’s block.
Cindy Bates is a freelance writer and editor at Bestessaytips and is creating her personal writing portfolio.