The writer’s block is awful. It can hit you hard, whether you’re someone who writes for a living or just needs to craft the occasional letter, report, paper, or even handwritten thank you or condolence note. Writer’s block can make what seems like a straightforward writing project feels like moving a mountain. There are strategies to break through – keep reading to learn more.
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1. Change It Up
Spending a large quantity of time on a specific project can lead to feeling burnt out. If you’re someplace like work, where it’s not possible to get away and take a break from it, sometimes changing tasks for a little while can break the lack of flow. Give your brain a break and put the writing aside for five minutes. Pick up another task, like filing, for example. Set a timer for yourself so you don’t get too engrossed in something new – you just need enough time to break the block and come back to your writing refreshed.
2. Take a Nap
It may sound counter-intuitive to go to sleep when you have work to do, but napping can give your brain a chance to recharge and refresh. It’s kind of like hitting a reset button on your thinking. Studies have shown how active our brains are while sleeping; why not set your brain to solving your writer’s block? Make sure to keep a pen and pad nearby so that you can capture those good ideas as soon as you wake up, and don’t forget to set the alarm!
Go old school. When you’re seemingly out of ideas, freewriting can jump-start your creativity. Writing on paper is a lot different than writing on a computer; it puts a different part of your brain to use. Put aside the laptop or keyboard and grab a pen and paper. Take a deep breath, and start writing. It doesn’t matter if what you’re writing is “on topic” – don’t worry about it, just let the words flow. Doodle a bit to get started, if you need to. You’d be surprised at how quickly exactly what you need bubbles to the surface of your mind.
Get the blood flowing! Chances are, you’ve been sitting there for a while, haven’t you? Getting up from the desk and even just taking a walk around the room or doing a few jumping jacks can help. Take deep breaths, and make sure to stretch. If you can get outside and get some fresh air, that’s even better! Just a walk around the building or the block can refresh your mood, alleviate your frustration, and reframe your approach to your writing project.
An outline functions as a roadmap for writing, and it’s never too late to outline. Jot down quick notes on what you want to do with your writing. Is your intention to inform your reader? Entertain them? What is it you want to communicate to your reader? As you drill down on exactly what you want to say, you can find clarity on how to say it. There’s no need to go into great detail – just a few bullet points will help you frame your project and lead the way to completion.
6. Talk it Up
Some folks are better at verbal communication than written communication. So work out that block with spoken words! Call up a friend or writing buddy. Walk down the hall or lean over and talk to your office mate. Explain what you’re trying to do and where you feel stuck. Articulating your problem aloud can provide you with a slightly different perspective that leads to new ideas. The person you’re talking to can also say something to spark a new idea, approach or phrase that gets you going again.
The writer’s block is no joke. It can be frustrating, frightening, and infuriating. But there are steps you can take to break the block and get back on track. Put these strategies in your writer’s toolbox and then next time you hit a wall with your work, you’ll be ready.