How to Get Rid of Writer’s Block

The causes of writer’s block are varied; but the most common ones involve struggles with fear, perfectionism, and time.

  • Fear
    Dealing with the fear of being judged can sometimes stop ideas from flowing. Putting your ideas on paper (or publishing online) for everyone to openly critique is a scary thing. Fear is among the major reasons why some writers settle with not having their work reach a bigger audience.
  • Perfectionism
    It’s wanting everything to be “perfect” before even starting with the actual process of writing. You try and get the topic or thoughts perfect in your head, but then it never does, and so you never start writing. Allow a little flexibility when it comes to your work. Be open to constructive criticism—take all the good pointers you can to improve your skill.
  • Time
    Perhaps it isn’t the right time for you to write; maybe you’re tired and have run out of ideas and it’s it in the middle of the night, or you can’t think of a topic for too long. The right timing is essential to getting in the right writing mood.

Getting rid of writer’s block often takes more effort than staring at a blank page indefinitely until you get a spark of an idea.

 

Write an Outline

Write a quick outline to help the ideas flow. You can also start by just writing words that you think are relevant and have a possible cohesive meaning as a whole. Create something called an “idiot’s outline,” which is just another term for a really simple outline.

 

Since there are pretty much no rules for creating an outline, start with what works for you. You can add more details to the outline by checking all resources, then creating a list with them. There is no need to keep the list neat and tidy. Just make sure there’s some sort of logical order to the ideas. Now you’ve got yourself a working, rough guide.

 

Do not limit yourself to what you think you should be writing. Go with the flow and write all about what you feel like writing. This can jump-start your system’s creativity and sooner or later, you’ll find creativity flowing correctly again and you’re over your writer’s block.

 

Start Anywhere

As you begin working on the piece, you can start anywhere within the topic. You don’t always have to start with the opening sentence. If you already have some thoughts about what you want to include, write it down so you won’t forget, and try to find a place for the thought later on within the written piece when it’s a bit more structured. Take advantage of your mind’s natural flow. Knowing how to permit the natural flow of thoughts instead of inhibiting may take some getting used to. But once you get the hang of it, it will get easier to accomplish.

 

Work on Something Else

Squeezing your brain for an idea can also burn you out. Why not take your mind somewhere else for a while? Write about something else on your mind, perhaps something about your day or a personal letter for someone, even if it is unrelated to what you’re supposed to be doing.

 

Ask for Help

Not in the sense of making other people do your work for you, but more of asking about a topic you’re trying to write about. If simple research alone isn’t making the cogwheels in your brain work, a consultation should do the trick. If you think learning about the topic you’re writing about through conversation is better than reading about it, or if you think reading about the topic first and then engaging in conversation after is better, you can do that. You may even mention some of the most interesting points about the topic when talking about it with a friend or a subject matter expert. Do what you need to do to keep the ideas flowing.

 

Practice with Writing Prompts

Creative writing prompts are a list of things that can give you something to write about every day. It can be about different topics each day, written in varying styles. For example, for today you can write about what you see outside the window, and then tomorrow you can write a love poem for someone. Writing prompts will stretch your imagination and can help you brainstorm. Here’s a sample list of creative writing prompts.

 

Write First, Edit Later

Stop yourself from editing while you write. Getting your thoughts out in writing can work really well when done uninterrupted. Do not stop the creative juices from flowing by stopping to edit a line or so. Editing will disrupt your thought flow and you may have a hard time getting the groove back. If in the middle of writing you decided that you need to add facts, quotes, and other bits of your research, try to skip those for now and resist the urge to add anything until after you reach the end. Do your editing and fact-checking after you finished writing your first version.

 

Keep on Reading

Writer’s block could come simply from not reading enough or not knowing about the subject at hand. Try to read more to fuel your mind and to get thoughts constantly flowing. Subscribe to email newsletters or set up an RSS dashboard to keep updated on the blog posts and topics you wish to follow. Just keep on reading. If you already have a specific topic in mind that you’d like to write about but can’t seem to wring that first sentence out, do more research. Research and read about the topic, then return to writing.

 

Avoid Multitasking

Stop everything else that you’re doing while writing. As you write, reduce the noise, turn off the TV or radio running in the background, change locations, or don’t even surf the internet, as these distractions can contribute to your loss of focus.

 

Set a Time Limit

Some people work better under pressure. If you’re one of them, set a time limit or deadline for when you should be done writing. Check out the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a technique bound to increase your focus while getting tasks done. Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that uses a timer to break down tasks into workable sections, normally 25 minutes in length. The name Pomodoro means tomato in Italian, referring to the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Cirillo often used when he was in university. If you’d like to try out the technique for yourself, you can start by deciding on what task to work on, set the timer to 25 minutes and work on the task without distractions. Essentially, you should be done in 25 minutes. But if you need more time, then just repeat as needed, taking short breaks every one hour or so.

 

Take a Break

You might be overthinking too much that it’s stopped all the good ideas from coming in. Take a walk, take a bath, or even nap. Hopefully, by the end of a half-hour break, you’re ready to take on everything that’s on your table.

 

More Do’s and Don’ts

Useful tips for when you’ve got writer’s block:

  • Allow yourself to commit mistakes.
  • Be open to positive/negative criticisms.
  • Construct a web of thoughts to narrow your ideas that will lead you to a specific topic.
  • Get the experts’ opinions on your subject matter.
  • Inhale and exhale for it will help your mind and body to relax.

What not to do:

  • Don’t write only when you feel “inspired” because that’s never going to happen when you have a writer’s block.
  • Don’t feel sorry for yourself since “you can’t write.”
  • Stop making excuses and stop procrastinating.
  • Don’t watch TV nor do anything else that will get your mind off writing to get over a writer’s block.

Remember!

Every good writer has to start somewhere, especially for a beginner. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Relax! Allow your ideas to flow freely. If there are minor glitches along the way, know that there is always room for improvement. Besides, learning new things doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of practice and patience.