5 Ways to handle writer’s block

Apr 10, 2018 | Better Writing

If writer’s block is a problem for you, here are a few ways to deal with it. Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, let’s start with prevention.

Preventing Writer’s Block: Change the Name, Change the Game

Let’s be clear, writer’s block is not some irresistible force of an evil empire. It’s also not a big deal. Every creative process in life has parts where you’re going to be stumped. When you’re stumped, you need to set to work to fix things. What you don’t need to do is to sit around wringing your hands and whining about something called “writer’s block.” If you don’t call it anything special and accept it as a natural part of the creative process, it’s a lot easier to deal with.

Don’t Try Harder

It’s the way of the world that you’re going to run into situations where you just don’t know what to do next. When that happens, you’re probably tempted to ratchet up the effort, trying harder and harder to get things to work. That’s probably one of the worst things you can do.

When you’re stumped, stop. Leave the project alone for a while. The best-case scenario is that you’ll get an idea about what to do and come back ready to solve the problem. The worst-case scenario is that you won’t get an idea about what to do, but you’ll come back refreshed and ready to solve the problem.

Set Your Brain Free

My friend, Robert Tucker, has said that “Anyone who has ever taken a shower has had a good idea.” I’m sure you’ve heard that quote, or something like it, but why does that happen?

The answer is that taking a shower is in a class of activities that are great for increasing the odds of inspiration. In addition to taking a shower, they include driving, washing the dishes, polishing silver, and taking a walk. What they all have in common is that they give your body something to do that doesn’t require a lot of attention from you.

Of these activities, probably the best one is walking. Any walking will probably help, but you’re more likely to get that pop of inspiration if you walk outside in natural surroundings where you don’t have to pay attention to things like pedestrians and stop lights.

What I’ve said so far will work for just about anyone. The next two suggestions may work for you, or they may not.

If You Are A Napper, Take A Nap

There are two kinds of naps. Some people nap like Winston Churchill. They turn out the lights, shut off the telephone, put on pajamas, and get under the covers. They usually nap for at least a couple of hours. That’s not the kind of nap I’m talking about.

If you take short naps, from 20 minutes to half an hour, they can be a great way to clear your head and maybe have a little inspiration kick in.

If You Must Write, Free Write

Maybe you’re the kind of person who can’t just step away from a problem. If so, you need to be doing something to feel like you’re making any progress. If that’s the case, write.

Only, don’t write about your project, just free-write. Free associate, write whatever comes into your head. After a while, you may get tired, or you may get a great idea about how to solve your writing problem.

Be Prepared to Capture Inspiration

If you get away from the grinding, efforting to solve your writing problem, you’re almost sure to get a flash of inspiration. When you do, be ready.

Great insights and ideas are like butterflies. If you don’t capture them right away, they’re going to flit away on the wind. If you don’t capture them, you’re going to be wondering what that great idea was. So, make sure you have a means to capture those ideas ready at hand. A pen and a small notebook will work. My personal device of choice is a small digital voice recorder.

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