How I Get Over Writer's Block
It's been a little while since I posted something on here. Not because I don't have ideas - no, I have a google doc full of them. It's because every time I sat down to write, I'd notice how hungry I was, or I'd check my email for the fifth time in ten minutes, or I'd somehow, most mysteriously get sucked into a Youtube watching vortex that rendered me unable to write for at least forty-five minutes. Anything to prolong starting at the blank page.
There was a wall up in my mind, a marching band of distractions and excuses. A typical case of writer's block.
As a writer and English teacher, I have seen the symptoms of this unfortunate condition in every varying degree. From my youngest students whining that they're bored to the older ones complaining they have no ideas, to me sitting in front of my laptop wondering whether a fourth cup of tea would finally kickstart my brain.
There is hope, for those in despair. The trick is finding what works for you.
Here are some ways I've finally overcome the dreaded writer's block:
Trade your laptop for pen and paper.
Maybe it's the fact that Facebook is only a tab away. Or maybe it's the act of typing. But what finally drew me out of my slump was trading my laptop for a notebook and scribbling out the ideas that had grown stale sitting inside my head. There's something about the act of writing by hand, word by word, that allows your mind to dwell longer and reach deeper, gathering momentum.
Before I knew it, after countless failed attempts at writing on a blank doc, my hand was racing across the page. While I wrote an introduction, two more blog ideas popped into my head and I quickly jotted them down on another page.
I prefer a good novel that I can really get sucked into, but anything can work. Browse articles that interest you, read a page of a self-help book or a short story. Reading opens up new experiences and insights for you. You notice what works and what doesn't. You're reminded of why you want to write.
Another tip is to pluck up the courage to go back and read some of your own writing. There's either two reactions that can follow.
1.) You'll be pleasantly surprised at how good your writing is. You'll realise the talent is still there.
2.) You'll be amazed at just how atrocious it. You'll realise it's due time to change that.
Go to a bookstore.
If you're really stuck for inspiration, it's time to head out to a bookstore or library. Find the shelf with books in your niche and settle in. Sift through interesting titles, scan tables of contents and read bits from the middle of a book. Being surrounded by successful authors that once had a vision just like you often does the trick to get the motivation trickling in.
You can keep a notebook on hand as you peruse the books to capture any ideas that cross your mind. Whilst basking in the quiet sobriety and the words of great writers around me, I like to etch out a plan there and then, or if the motivation is really building up, just start writing.
Rant to someone.
Oh, the relief of a good rant. If not to a real person, then to your mirror. Often while you're ranting, you'll come across the real reason for your mental block. Blabber out every detail of your idea, as dumb as you may think it is. Talking to someone else about your idea lets you see it in a different light and bouncing ideas of someone (even if it happens to be your mirror self) can help narrow down exactly how you want to write your piece.
As much as I would love to promise you a foolproof method to cure your writer's block once and for all, writing is an art and everyone prefers a different paintbrush. Experiment with these strategies. Stop staring at the blank screen, at the inside of your fridge, at the clock, and do something about it!