Yes, it happens to everyone at one time or another. You have been staring at a blank page and can’t even begin to think where to start. You might be writing a blog, trying to think of what posts to write for Facebook or Instagram, or stuck on a vital part in the book that is going to be the next big thing! It doesn’t really matter what you are writing, it will strike you at some time or other.
If it happens to you, what do you do? Do you even know why it happens?
What causes writer’s block?
There are various reasons why this affliction suddenly strikes. Sometimes it helps to know that you’re not alone, it happens to the best of us. Some of the common causes are…
You want everything to be perfect before you start. You make sure you have time, and you’re mulling over ideas in your head so you can get it down on paper, right first time. Trouble is, your brain suddenly starts wandering off in another direction! You pull it back and try to concentrate again, trying to get the wording just right in your head before you write it down. ‘Did you switch off the oven?’ pops into your head, or ‘Did I reply to that important email?’
It’s easy to get distracted and, if you’re in this position, it’s time to take a break and do something else.
Timing is another common cause. You’re not being distracted by anything; your mind has just suddenly gone blank. It might simply not be the right time to write – you might need more time to think about your ideas a bit more – have a brainstorm instead.
Fear is also a big factor in writer’s block. Some people never become writers because they are simply too afraid to put their writing out there and risk criticism. They are afraid of other people reading their work.
It might be that you are afraid to finish your book/article/blog because it might not be good enough. Hitting that wilderness can cause panic, anxiety and a host of other unpleasant things…but it’s good to know that you’re not the only one who this happens to – many of the great writers suffer from a block; I’d even hazard a guess that they all have at some point.
What can you do to solve this ever present block?
Well, there’s no definitive answer that will suit everyone. We are all different and all suffer with writer’s block for our own reasons. I can’t tell you exactly how to fix it, but I can share some solutions to help you get your focus back.
Possible solutions to writer’s block
Here are some ideas – some I have tried and some I haven’t…
- Get away from your desk. Go outside, take deep breaths and maybe go for a walk. I live in the French countryside, so I often take a stroll round our field and just sit for a bit.
- If you love to exercise, you might try a bike ride or a run – get your blood flowing.
- Play a game (but set a time limit or you’ll find the day is gone!)
- Spend time with someone who you like to be around, someone who makes you feel good.
- Call your family for a chat.
- Read a book.
- Google some inspiring quotes about writing that will get you going.
- As I said above, get rid of the distractions. I’m easily distracted by email/social media posts popping up, so I switch off email and social media when I’m writing.
- Listen to some music – I really like this one…or play an instrument!
- Brainstorm some ideas and just put them in bullet points in a word document.
- Write something else! Leave the writing you’re struggling with and start to write about something different. I often do this with blogs. If I’m really struggling to find the right words, or just can’t think how to string a particular sentence together, I stop! And I start writing a different blog about something completely different. Often, I don’t go back to the original for days, sometimes weeks. Then it suddenly jumps out at me and I can do it.
- Take a shower! No, not because you smell or need it! Have you ever noticed that you always get your best ideas when you’re in the shower or just about to drop off to sleep? Occasionally, I have to get out of bed and just jot down a few ideas.
I find that having a writing routine makes me sit down and get on with it. Plan your ‘to do’ list and make sure that your writing forms a big part of that list. It’s the same as ‘hitting the wall’ when you’re running. You have to push through it. So, forcing yourself to commit to a certain amount of time every day or every few days is key to getting out of the doldrums and kicking the butt of writer’s block.
I write blogs, as well as having a couple of books on the go. Sometimes my blog writing doesn’t go well simply because I haven’t done enough research on the subject I’m writing about. So, for me, I go on Google and search for more articles on the subject I’m writing about and see if I can get inspiration for a different angle.
Sometimes you can just write through the block. This is one way to deal with the fear factor! To coin a phrase, ‘Just do it!’ It doesn’t matter what you’re writing about, or if it doesn’t feel right, just keep on writing – you can always edit it later. From time to time you are so full of self-doubt that you can’t see past that. This often goes along with fear. So, push through the block as I said before and, like the runner who gets a stitch, keep going and eventually it will go away.
Finally if you are really struggling, get away from it.
After all tomorrow is always another and new writing day! You could always go shopping for shoes instead!