Writer’s block is only a temporary state of mind – a paralysis that can be cured through analysis.
You know the importance of white space. You have to make the words visually appealing if you wish to galvanize your reader’s interest. But what if you’ve mastered the ‘white space look’ to such an extent that there is nothing but a sea of white, and the conspicuous absence of words on the page?
Time elapses and the white page remains unchanged. Your thoughts drift but return to one central idea: Your lack of productivity, and perhaps the concomitant feelings of immobilization and uneasiness, if not panic.
After all, you’re a gifted, professional writer who should not succumb to writer’s block. This condition should be reserved for those inexperienced writers who don’t have much to report. In contrast, you’re a seasoned veteran who has been ‘around the (writer’s) block,’ and you typically have too much information to relate to the audience.
Try not to be so self-critical and disillusioned with the current state of affairs. Even Ernest Hemingway experienced writer’s block but he did not have the benefit of this article to help him break free of it. If you’re not yet able to put pen to paper or bang those keys on the keyboard, avail yourself to the 7 suggestions that follow to get that writing flowing where you regain your mojo:
1. Clear Your Head
You may assert that your head is already ‘too clear’ as you sense your brain waves flatlining, unable to conjure up any creative thoughts.
But it’s very likely that you have too many cognitions running amok at the same time. Case in point: Before writing this article, I was thinking about all the work-related responsibilities that I have to complete. I was concerned about the one thousand and one household chores I have to perform. I was besieged with thoughts pertaining to a host of worries – some real, others imagined.
These swirling tides of counterproductive thoughts interfered with my ability to express myself with the written word. So even though my time is so limited, I decided to take a 30 minute power walk that served to recharge my energy, clear my head, and strengthen my focus. I’m now in a much better position to summon my inner Shakespeare.
Now a walk in the park works for me. You have to figure out what type of break works for you – a laugh with friends, a favorite TV program, meditation … well, anything, to calm your mind and mentally prepare for writing.
2. Engross Yourself in Reading
Yes, your objective is to write, not to read. However, reading may not only prove to be a healthy diversion but a source of inspiration
You’ll see how the author is getting his/her message across and the literary devices used. You’ll observe how the writer is providing all the necessary details, moving the piece along.
Reading the same topic, or at least material in a similar genre, is advisable as this can trigger related ideas and foment the creative juices within you.
And if your confidence is waning, reread your work to recognize your literary might.
3. Engage in a Free Writing Exercise
My expository writing professor used to allow us to write in a no holds barred style. We were encouraged to write in a completely free way and not put our pens down under any circumstances for 15 minutes. During that time, the goal was to express ourselves completely and without hesitation, breaking rules of grammar, if necessary.
So if you’re stuck on one subject, choose any other and just write for a short time duration. Here, quantity counts because it underscores that you’re writing in an uninhibited, anything goes fashion.
When you get back to the topic at hand, you’ll be more apt to unleash your unique brand of creativity.
4. Abandon Perfection
Perhaps the number one stumbling block among writers is to go on a hopeless quest for perfection. We want so much to affect our readers, piquing their curiosity and interest. We also want their respect and approval, but for that to happen, our words have to resonate with them.
Informative, influential, and powerful prose is not easy to construct. So many writers feel immobilized, uncertain of how to effectively relay information and build that perfect connection with the audience.
Instead of feeling you have to be perfect, at least when initially writing, just get your ideas down. You’ll have time later to edit to bolster the piece.
Feel the magic and spontaneity of the writing process. As author Christina Israti, once asserted: “Writing is not just a process of creation. It is also a process of self-discovery.” If you abandon perfection, dig deep within, and just get into the task at hand, the outcome will be more than pleasing.
5, Change Setting
This has nothing to do with superstition. We tend to write best where we feel comfortable, reflective, and confronted with less distractions. (One size does not fit all, however, as some writers welcome background noise, for example.)
The bottom line is that you have to find your ‘ideal writing space.’ The location may vary, depending on mood and muse, but you need to go where the writing will flow.
It may be outdoors on a sunny day; you may find inspiration writing in a library; or you may harness your inner creativity in the comfort of your bedroom. So if writer’s block transpires, change your writing locale.
6. Write for the Audience, Instead of Trying to Impress Them
Writing a Pulitzer Prize winner or penning an article that gets thousands of shares on social media is a tremendous honor and feat. Audience approval becomes an aphrodisiac for many authors, desperate for their readers’ love and admiration. Many writers sole goal in mind is to gain accolades for their work, feeding an unsatiated ego.
But we have to remind ourselves that a writer’s purpose is to inform and enlighten, persuade and influence, or pique curiosity and entertain. Writers must consider their audience’s needs and interests, and not write as a bartering chip for praise and recognition.
Before even jotting down that first word, see how the story should unfold in your mind’s eye. Is there a problem that needs to be remedied? Are there crucial points that need to be shared? Again, consider this type of framework from the reader’s perspective.
If we think about how to serve others, instead of merely serving ourselves, the writing exercise becomes easier. Placing ourselves in the audience’s position will help us better deliver the prose and the goods.
7. Stop the Negative Self-Talk
We are our own worst critics, lambasting ourselves for lack of effort and/or lack of proficiency. We may feel that we just don’t possess the crucial qualities that talented writers possess. And even if we’re finally able to crystallize our thoughts and produce written work, we often feel that it won’t be well-received.
It’s time for some cognitive restructuring where we gain trust in ourselves and in our abilities. We need to remember that we’re introspective, observant, and thoughtful individuals who have expressed ourselves our entire lives. Writing is just another self-expression exercise – one where we can relate our experiences, thoughts, and feelings to a receptive audience.
Casting away any inherent laziness and pushing procrastination tendencies aside, any of the aforementioned 7 anti-writer’s block methods should launch you towards ‘the write life.’ Soon, the writer’s block will thaw and some welcome print will encompass that all-imposing white space.