Overcoming Writers Block

By ACS Distance Education on December 23, 2016 in Education | comments

Writing is part of daily life for everyone today. We write texts, emails ans students write assignments. People write reports at work; and some regularly write professionally - web site content, blogs, advertising material, articles and even books.

With writing being so important to us; it can be a disaster when you struggle to find inspiration or motivation to take words out of your head and assemble them well in your writing. Some call this "writers block".

What is writer’s block?

Writer’s block happens to everyone at some point. Simply put, it’s a mental block that keeps you from writing or makes you feel like everything you write is awful.

Why does it happen?

Writer’s block is a natural part of the creative process. When we spend a long time working on something, our minds become deeply engaged, and this creates a high drain. Although sitting down writing is often enjoyable, the process is intensive; creating something from scratch and developing it is even more intensive. For many people, writer’s block is a sign that it’s time to slow down a little and take a break. Our minds can’t create and develop unless they have some down time to rest and recover.

Many people experience writer’s block as a lack of inspiration, or even a type of ennui. Sometimes, this is because they read others’ work and feel as if they are not good enough. This, too, is a natural part of the creative process. When it seems like all the ideas have been taken and everyone around us is better, it is because we’re starting to recognise what better looks like. This is a sign of growth.

Finally, writer’s block sometimes occurs because the world does not seem as fantastic as books do, and that there is nothing to write about. While frustrating at the time, rest assured: there is plenty to write about. Your perspective is your perspective and no-one else’s, which makes your work unique.

How we can open up our creativity again

When you’re struggling with writer’s block, it can feel like you will never write anything good again. If you’re feeling blocked because you’ve been working intensively on a big project for a while, take a break – set yourself a timetable that includes a time to rest, then a time to start writing again. Perhaps aim for a week.

For everything else, or after your break, try the following relaxation exercises to help work through this feeling.

Mind Maps

Sometimes called brainstorm maps, or simply brainstorming, these are a visual tool for exploring an idea. Start with something in the middle – a photo or short piece of text from the work you’re stuck on, or simply a photo or quote that you like. Write and draw anything that comes to mind around it. Don’t censor yourself. There is nothing too big or small to include on a mind map. When you’re done, go back to your map and look for connections and questions. Draw lines between things, write or mark your questions in. Answer whatever you can. If you’re using this to help work through a block on a current piece, put it aside for a day or two, then use it as a starting point for when you go back to work.

Get Out and Observe

There’s a reason so many writers work in coffee shops: they’re an excellent place to go for people watching. When you’re stuck, go out and listen to the world around you for a while. Write down snippets of dialogue; describe something simple, using as many senses as you can.

Write the Old like the New

Thinking about things we know well can help take the stress out of writing through a block. Using your senses, think about how you would describe something familiar to an alien, someone who has never experienced the taste of coffee or the scent of chocolate. Start with something simple, like grass. What is the grass around you like? Remember, use your senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight.

  • What shade of green is the grass?
  • What do you think the grass would taste like? How would it feel on your tongue?
  • How does it sound when the wind runs over it? What are the sounds of grass being cut?
  • How does the grass smell? How does it smell after rain, or being cut?
  • How does the grass feel beneath your fingertips? Sharp? Soft? Are the blades smooth?

Zero in on points which might seem familiar, and focus on those. You know what grass is like. Your extra-terrestrial friend doesn’t. Leave nothing out. And keep a record – sometimes this type of writing will help you think of a new and useful description to use in your work.

Reading the Work of Other People

Although one of the causes of writer's block can be feeling inferior to other writers, taking time to read other author's can be a key to unlocking your creativity once more. You don't have to read a whole novel, or even a whole chapter. Just reading short sections of work or perhaps a few poems can be therapeutic.

Similarly, talking to other writers can be helpful if you can. You'll soon realise that everyone faces challenges when writing and you may learn some useful tips on how others learn to overcome their lapses in creativity.