Writer’s Block: 18 ways to Be Productive in 2023
Writer’s block is something every writer must have faced at some point in time. It is one of the most responsible elements for reduced productivity, well, here are few ways to beat writer’s block
At some point, nearly every writer faces the writer’s block challenge, which makes them unable to produce new or creative content. In the early centuries, people did not understand that there is such a condition that affects a writer’s ability. Instead of finding ways to cure, people believed that some unseen power or a force is throwing a spoke in the wheel of the writer.
What is Writer’s block?
Writer’s block is a condition when the writer is unable to produce quality content or something meaningful ability not being able to produce new work does not mean there is a problem with the writing skills. It’s about not getting original ideas and not being productive in your writing.
For some it’s temporary but some writers face this problem for days, weeks, or sometimes for months. This affects their confidence, quality of work, and in some rare cases identity issues as well.
While some believe that it is a genuine problem, others believe there’s no such thing and it’s all in the head.
Every day is different and the writer’s mental ability can change from minute to minute. At times your brain is open and your creativity and ideas flow smoothly, but there is a time when you keep hitting the speed breakers and struggling to pull out new ideas.
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What causes Writer’s block?
Every writer has distinct reasons that caused writer’s block. However, some common reasons are:
You can’t gather your thoughts and pin them down if you are bombarded with distractions. Your focus wanders around, shifting from one thing to another.
Run out of inspiration
For the majority of writers, it is all about getting the right inspiration to write. They simply struggle with their originality and imaginativeness. They run out of all inspiration and get up against a brick wall.
Some writers can’t get past writer’s block because of their physical wellbeing. It could be an accident, an illness, or just seasonal issues. Which doesn’t let their thoughts focus away from the physical discomfort or pain.
It is one of the common causes for not being able to write or hit publish, it holds us back.
- Fear of not being good enough
- Fear of failure
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of what others might think and react to
- Fear to face the critique
- Fear of being trolled on social media pulls down your confidence.
Fear is a major reason that prevents a writer from becoming a writer. Many of us are playing small even though we have the capacity to do bigger and better, simply because of fear.
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Writing in an unsuitable genre or style
It can be one of the reasons that you got the job to write about something you are not comfortable with. It could be the form or genre the writer is not confident to write in or it could be the content that is not agreeable with his morals or ethics.
Some writers are just not comfortable writing with the sword of time hanging on the head and are not comfortable performing under pressure. Being bound by time sometimes creates a barrier in arranging thoughts clearly or efficiently, and shifts your focus on how much has been written so far and how much time is left.
Being a perfectionist is not wrong but sometimes can take a toll on your work. You don’t seem to be satisfied with your work to publish and keep going back to make it ‘perfect. Writing is a form of art and an artist rarely says his art is perfect, but always finds room for improvement. Rather than enjoying writing, we beat ourselves up for getting the perfect drafts.
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Practical ways to overcome writer’s block and get your creativity back on the track
Well, it’s difficult because there is no foolproof formula to solve this problem. One tip might be helpful for one but useless for another writer. Yet there are plenty of solutions, the trick is to find which one (or many) works best for you and head in the right direction.
Overcoming writer’s block is a destination that is not achieved easily but once you reach there you will know that it was a worthy task. So, trust the process and keep believing in yourself.
The best solution to overcome writer’s block is – Write. The easiest thing to do is to avoid writing when you are discouraged. This usually only makes your writer’s block worse by encouraging you to give up.
Don’t stop writing, just start from somewhere. Even if it’s just a few words or get your ideas down in bullet points when you don’t have clarity. You can always go back to modify and refine them later.
Grab your pen and paper or laptop, find a quiet corner where you won’t be disturbed, decide the topic, set the time, and start writing. Don’t stop to read what you have written or to edit to make it polished. The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.
It could be irrelevant to the topic you are writing as the main goal of freewrite is to write for a pre-set time without a second guess. Without being bothered about spelling, grammar, self-consciousness, or worry about what people might think of it. All the thoughts that come to your mind, put them down in words.
3. Remove distractions
I need to find a quiet corner, where I am not concerned with distractions. Remove distractions that are affecting your focus from writing, for instance, turn the TV off, avoid watching your favorite web series on the laptop or computer you are working on, to make sure you don’t end up watching them instead of writing.
Keep the phone on silent for those annoying app notifications, block loud noises if possible, let everyone around the house know that you are not to be disturbed unless something is on fire.
4. Change the environment
Changing the place you sit to write will free you from the average run on the mill. Sometimes a little change is all you need. You can head on to a library or a local coffee shop and find a quiet corner, where you will observe others working hard on their projects (or sometimes pretend to be working).
If it works for you, you can pay a visit to the local park or beach, it is also a good way to hit the ground running. Furthermore, you can take up some cabin in a co-working place and get motivated and inspired by people around.
It has been proved by some researchers that being in the presence of people who are working on their creative projects is contagious. Their efforts, dedication, and work ethic can influence you and increase your productivity. Changing your place or environment you write in can be a big help to overpower your writer’s block.
5. Break the chronological pattern
Every writer has a personal way and style to write. Rather than being stuck and getting overwhelmed to start from your usual way or chronological pattern. Like, if you are stuck at writing the introduction of your article or blog, write the main body or even the conclusion first.
Where you feel more confident and less pressured to write. It doesn’t matter, which part of the blog or story you write first and which one later, all that matters is that you continue to write. When some parts of your work are done, you will be all warmed up and confident to go back to fill in the missing pieces.
6. Make a routine
Many writers swear by having a writing routine. If you only write when you feel like doing it, then your writer’s block may get worse and longer. Creating and following a set writing routine will be a good way to start. Whether you write at a particular time every day, a set time block, or only on weekends, make sure to discipline yourself and stick to the routine you created.
7. Perfect words
Many writers suffer from perfectionism and can spend long hours finding the perfect words, phrases, or sayings to express their thoughts and concepts they are writing. This breaks the flow of creative thoughts and delays your writing. Write the way your thoughts are flowing, whether it is well expressed or not.
You can use some particular words that you would like to change, highlight, put underline, etc., to make it easy to go back and refine them. You can always get it right later or have a second pair of eyes you trust.
8. Social media
Social media is an amazing platform for showcasing your work and increases the possibility to attract more work and fame.
Make sure you don’t lose your focus while writing and get distracted by constant notifications. We all know how it can negatively affect the quality of work. Take some time to give social media a break and refrain from touching your phone while working.
9. Pump up your heart rate
Go for a run, join a dance workout, ride a bike, or hit the gym to get your blood flowing. It always feels good after any physical activity, isn’t it? Several kinds of research have been conducted about it. Endorphins are released post-workout, which not only makes us feel better about ourselves.
As well as allows the growth of new cells in the part of the brain, which helps grow new cells that support our memory. Additionally, these cells open the mind to conceptualize new inspirations and thoughts of creativity.
10. Inner self-critic & self-doubting thoughts or critical and realistic thoughts
Don’t throw yourself down with excessive self-criticism. It is something that prevents you from the very best thing you love to do – Writing. There is often that negative voice inside all of us creating self-doubts. Big or small, every writer deals with it. Some give in yet some fight and stand. We are not alone, even great well-renowned writers like Angela Slatter, Stephen King, and Margaret Atwood had to overcome their inner criticism and self-doubts.
Occasionally, it’s because of being used to get praise and positive feedback. It could have started from early education life or at your work, where you have been an achiever. We get so used to receiving positive feedback, that we are not willing to have any kind of different experience. This stops us from executing our most innovative work, which will bring more divergence in the feedback we will receive.
The voice of an inner critic is different from our critical or realistic thinking. To beat the writer’s block and be more innovative, express our unique point of view, we need to shush our inner critic voice and focus on our critical and realistic views.
One should question these voices playing in the head, reevaluate our risks, how we consider them, and decide whether you should risk something, or is it better to play safe. But, how to…
“…. weigh these familiar voices, when questioning?”
“…. decide if it’s ok to listen to the inner critic?”
“….. know if it is really a bad decision?”
Well, the way we can set apart an inner critic’s voice is that It sounds harsher and meaner than you would like to speak to someone you like. It has a propensity to be repetitive like a broken record, saying the same thing over and over again. When you are trying to write about something new or innovative, it will be like – there is no way you can pull this off…. There is no way it is going to work…. There is no chance for you to get it to work…. You don’t have what it takes…
In contrast, critical thinking will not be repetitive, but evaluative and forward moving. It will be like a curious, generative, and kinder tone to you. It will help distinct black, white, and grey areas.
Save yourself from the total loss of self-confidence as a writer and stop entertaining your negative inner self-doubting thoughts. It is not easy at the beginning but once you start it becomes like your second nature. It will not only help you overcome writer’s block but also will be helpful in other aspects of life too.
It’s often tempting to pay no heed to the problem and procrastinate writing, hoping it will be gone soon. But, it requires a lot more effort to conquer.
You can either make money or excuses. Procrastinate writing and making excuses for not doing it will send you in the wrong direction. Which will further demotivate you, affect your self-confidence, and stretch out the timespan of your writer’s block.
It is a phase that every writer goes through and there is always a way to come back. Be determined to take responsibility for finding the cause and overcome using whichever trick or method works for you.
12. Mindless or relaxing activities
It has a scientific reason to this that the creative juices start flowing when we are doing some mindless, routine, or relaxing activity. For instance, most people get their ideas in the bathroom, while taking a walk, cooking, cleaning, or when you are in the bed trying to doze off.
“A relaxed state of mind is absolutely important to be creative”, says Jonah Lehrer.
You would probably be pushing your mind working hard to think and strive against writer’s block. Doing these relaxing, repetitive, or routine mindless activities leaves your unconscious mind unoccupied and wandering around to run imaginations or playing scenes, that will plant ideas into your conscious mind. It has also been backed by a study at the University of Oregon that monotonous activities make it easier for our minds to tap into creativity.
13. Wash your Writer’s block
I have always wondered why people get most of their ideas in the shower? Furthermore, the fact is supported by science too. Showering or bathing is one of the most relaxing activities.
A renowned neuroscientist, Alice Flaherty, is researching creativity and might have an answer for us. According to her dopamine is very important for our creativity, more dopamine release, more creativity. Alice says,
“People vary in terms of their level of creative drive according to the activity of the dopamine pathways of the limbic system.”
However, according to Harvard University researcher Shelley H. Carson, the main crucial factor here is a distraction. When you are stuck on an issue, an interruption may force an incubation period. She says,
“In other words, a distraction may provide you the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.”
So next time when you are anchored, maybe a warm shower will do the trick to wash away your writer’s block.
14. Break the pattern
Try something new, a new restaurant, different cuisine, take a small vacation, or maybe a staycation. Break the pattern or a part of your daily routine that keeps you stuck. Allow yourself to take a break from writing for a few hours, a day, or a weekend.
Slow down your brain and experience some more memorable moments with your friends and/or family. Get involved in some pleasurable activity, play your favorite sport, watch a movie or if you like, indulge in spa therapy. You will come back refueled, charged up, and motivated to beat up your writer’s block.
15. Change writing tools
Sometimes the change you need doesn’t have to be physical. All you can do is change the way you write, change the writing tool you use, genre, or style, or simply changing your usual font will get you going. You may also consider writing old school way – using pen and paper. This may be enough to create the distraction you need to focus on writing.
The music itself is the brainchild of someone’s creativity, it is an integral part of our lives. Several studies have demonstrated that music helps us calm, reduce anxiety, and access the part of the brain that is linked with creativity. It helps the mind to relax and improve concentration. Music is one of the best companions for a writer.
Many writers use relaxing instrumental or classical music that doesn’t have distractive lyrics, to get into the frame of mind and jumpstart their writing. There are plenty of apps like mom writer or use your favorite playlist to combat their writer’s block.
17. Mind gym
Brainstorming stimulates the brain and drives it to look at a situation from all kinds of diverse angles. Mentally challenging brain games open the mind to new perspectives and ideas that help lead to more creativity and problem-solving skills. Get a habit of your brain workout, either virtual or physical that challenges your thought process and uses your creativity.
18. Dig a little deeper
Sometimes ‘lack of inspiration’ is not the only reason for Writer’s block. It is much deeper than that, so start digging deep and ask questions to yourself :
- Why am I actually blocked?
- Am I losing the vision of what my story is all about?
- Am I merely feeling tired and under the weather?
- Where is my interest going?
- Is it pressure to succeed?
- Am I intimidated due to competition with other writers?
- Is it a fear of rejection?
- Do I lack confidence in my writing abilities?
Each of these problems will have a different solution and timespan. Remind yourself that writing is your accomplishment, it is something you love to do. It is difficult to solve anything until you know what caused it in the first place. Keep asking questions until the answer takes you to the roots of the cause for your writer’s block.
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Writing is not a chore, it’s a labor of love. All writers face this issue but what matters is whether you push enough and get through or get stuck there paralyzed.
However, the goal is always the same, to get the flow of your thoughts and get pleasurably absorbed in your words that you lose a sense of time and place.
It doesn’t matter which area we are trying to improve in ourselves, the first step is always the hardest. But once you start heading in the right direction, you will pick up the speed. Before you know it you will finish your marathon and your writer’s block will be history.