I’ll be 100% candid with you. I’m working on my goal of publishing 100,000 words in a year (outside of what I do for my 9-5), and I’m having a bit of trouble coming up with something to write about. So, in lieu of any creative genius, let’s talk about writer’s block.
It’s a real thing. It’s frustrating, it’s confusing, and it’s formally acknowledged by most psychologists (considered a brief form of generalized anxiety resulting in decreased cognitive functioning, and lasting for roughly two weeks). Any of us that have ever written at all, be it school papers or lengthy books, have experienced writer’s block to varying degrees at some point. Why not struggle through this together? Here are six things we can both do to overcome writer’s block.
1. Go for a stroll.
Many of the nation’s most successful writers attest that going for a mild walk helps them break through a creative slump. Thankfully, science agrees with them! Going for a 20-minute-ish walk will actually provide the same cognitive benefits (endorphins kicking in, blood circulation, increased serotonin, etc.) as a full workout. Except, if you’re just going for a leisurely walk, you still have plenty of energy left to write when you get back.
2. Do something else, anything else!
Writer’s block is thought to be caused by anxiety, right? So get away from what’s making you anxious, which is probably whatever you’re trying to write! Many people will confuse writer’s block for burn out, and they’re not necessarily wrong. Writer’s block can be a form of burn out. But it’s not as debilitating, nor does it last as long. You simply need to do something completely different for a while (maybe for a few hours; maybe for several days).
Think of it this way. Creative workspace has been a growing trend over the last decade, because every spot within an office would be different, and therefore offer varied stimulation to keep your brain from becoming too complacent or too used to one thing. If you keep trying to work on the same things over and over again, and keep getting stuck, you’ve got to find something else to stimulate your brain, because you’ve become too used to what you’re currently working on.
3. Down a glass of deliciously cool water.
This one’s pretty simple, and it’s amazing how often drinking a glass of cool water will help whatever problem you’ve got. If your hydration level drops even 1% below it’s peak range, you could lose up to 14% of your productivity and cognitive potential. For some, this is a quick fix. If you can’t think straight for the full “clinical” two weeks, you might do well to change your diet! You could start by replacing alcoholic, carbonated, and sugary beverages with water.
4. Just wait it out.
If you have a serious case of writer’s block, it will last about two weeks. But then you’ll be back to normal! Why this time period? It could be that’s how long it takes your brain and body to recoup from whatever stressors are causing your writer’s block in the first place. Really, we’re not entirely sure why it’s this time frame. But we do know that it’s only temporary, and that you will be back to your usual creative self before long. Have faith!
5. Keep pushing!
It won’t be easy, and you won’t necessarily create your best content, but sometimes you need to keep writing. Maybe it’s to finish a project, beat a deadline, or because you have the insatiable urge to keep writing. Actually, if you do power through, you’ll most likely break out of your writer’s block, as point six will explain.
6. Start handwriting whatever comes to mind.
To be completely candid, that’s how I wrote this post! You’re familiar with hand-eye coordination, right? It’s two separate parts working together to improve each other. Similarly, whenever your hand starts writing, it moves because the neurons in your brain are traveling back-and-forth to your hand telling it what movements to make. This stimulates the area of your brain associated with both your hand’s fine motor skills and your high-functioning cognitive processes – the frontal lobe. By picking up a pen and starting to write, your hand and mind will work together to get your creative juices flowing.
Whatever you choose to do, know that writer’s block is a legitimate condition, and that it’s only temporary. You’re not crazy for going into a creative slump, and you won’t lose the creative prowess you pride yourself in. Try not to stress about it! That might make it worse. You need only be patient. And if you must push through, you have this handy list to help you succeed.