Writer’s block. It happens to the best of us. I’m a professional writer and I have to overcome writer’s block – all. the. time. Have you ever thought of a great idea, sat down to type it out and couldn’t seem to get your thoughts out in a comprehensive way? Have you ever been in the middle of writing a really great blog post or email and suddenly lost your train of thought – like your mind went totally blank? That’s writer’s block. Don’t worry, it’s normal. And like I said, it happens to the best of us.
I challenge you to find one writer, just one – creative, fictional, professional or freelance – who hasn’t experienced the frustrating of writer’s block. Please, the next time you see a colleague, friend or family member who enjoys writing, ask them if they’ve ever had writer’s block. If they tell you it’s never happened, they’re lying.
I wish I could tell you that I’m the world’s best writer and my creative juices are always flowing, but then I’d be lying. Take this article for example. I had the idea to write this blog post three weeks ago. I was having a tough day and wanted to share how I overcome writer’s block. As you may have noticed this didn’t get completed last month, it’s only being published (for your reading pleasure) now. Why? Because my thoughts got blocked, then I got discouraged and it took me several days to come back to my desk and attempt to write this piece again.
I make a living off creating content so getting stuck isn’t pleasant, but every time it happens I take it as a learning experience – that is after the frustration wears off. Throughout my years of working within deadlines and managing multiple projects at the same time I’ve learned that the true test of a great writer is now how often you get stuck, it’s how you overcome writer’s block.
There’s nothing more annoying than not being able to have a creative outlet for your thoughts. There’s nothing more infuriating than wanting to create something but not being able to sit down, focus and put your thoughts into words.
Here are seven ways to help you overcome writer’s block:
Do something else
Anything else. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just do something other than writing. If you don’t you could be sitting at your desk for hours, getting nothing done. And trust me, accomplishing nothing will only add to your frustration. Although pushing through the blockage may seem like the right course of action, sometimes the best thing to do is just to get up and walk away.
If you’ve ever read anything on the internet, then you’ve learned about the physical and emotional benefits of physical activity. Well, I find the same thing is true for creativity. Sometimes when I’m stuck in my thoughts, I change my clothes and go for a quick walk or start a short yoga practice with my fave app Downward Dog.
This isn’t just one of my tips, it’s actually proven that getting physical can help our creativity. According to Business Insider, “Wendy Suzuki, author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life, says that in addition to its stress-reducing, mind-focusing, productivity-inducing, and memory-enhancing properties, there seems to be some evidence supporting the idea that exercise could help make us more creative.”
Turn up your music
If you’re like me, you like to have some type of noise on in the background when you work. Sometimes I leave the TV on and sometimes I play music – it all depends on my mood and what I’m working on. When I get in a jam and my mind is full of nothing but blank space, I find that jamming out to loud music is a huge energy release – and that’s what writer’s block is really about, blocked energy. I turn up my music and dance around for 15 minutes. After three to five songs I’m usually tired (how did I ever go clubbing all night in my 20s) and ready to get back to work. PS – do you have Taylor Swift’s Blank Space in your head right now?
Honestly, I’m not sure if this works, but eating is always my go-to solution for any problem that life throws at me. Taking a break to raid the fridge helps to fill my belly and refocus my thoughts. Sometimes we can’t focus because our blood sugar is low, eating solves that problem. I don’t suggest binge eating because then you’ll be sleepy and want to take a nap. But a quick bite can’t hurt, right?
If you’re having trouble focusing on work, you may also be lacking caffeine. I’m not 100% sure this is a healthy tip, but it works for me. The combination of sugar and caffeine after a Starbucks-run can do wonders for the mind. Agreed?
I love reading. If you know me in real-life aka offline, you know I love reading crime fiction novels. James Patterson, and Joseph Finder can do no wrong in my eyes. But, when it comes to overcoming writer’s block my go-to read is trashy gossip magazines. I don’t follow any of the Kardashians on Instagram, but I will read about them in US Weekly if it helps me get back to work.
If this is the way you want to overcome writer’s block, my advice is to set a time limit because it’s very easy to get caught up in a good book – or gossip column. Always remember, you’re just taking a quick break to gather your thoughts, you’re not taking the rest of the day off.
Change your working space
A change of scenery can do wonders for the mind, body and soul. If you’re stuck indoors all day, take your laptop and work outside. If you’re in an office, go home and work from your couch. If you’re in a home office, go work at the kitchen table. I find the vibe in a room can make or break my productivity. And since this is how I make my living, I prefer it doesn’t break me – but that certainly has happened. I like to find a room with good vibes and I light some candles. When my ambiance changes, so does my productivity.
Just move on
If you’re on a deadline and desperately need to finish your work, sometimes the best thing to do when you get stuck is to forget about it and move on to other things. That may be working on another paragraph, starting another project or tackling another task. Whatever it is, you can come back to it later. Starring into space (or onto a blank page) isn’t productive, and it’s not helping you finish your work on time.
So, if you can do it, my advice is to keep working, but move on to something else. Give yourself another mission and start working towards that goal. Once you start gaining momentum, it will be easier to come back to the task where you got stuck.
I hope these tips help you overcome writer’s block next time you get stuck in a creative black hole. Feel free to bookmark this page and come back here next time you get caught up in writer’s block. This guide about how to write a blog post may also help. If you get really stuck and need help working though it, send me an email. I’m happy to help you get out of your funk and get back to being creative. As an added bonus – you’ll be writing (the email) so hopefully it will help you get focused and get back into your writing groove.