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6 Scientific Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

6 Scientific Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Kenneth Burke

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Ways to Get Rid of Negative Energy and Become Positive

7 Ways to Get Rid of Negative Energy and Become Positive

Negativity affects ourselves and everyone around us. It limits our potential to become something great and live a fulfilling, purposeful life. Negativity has a tangible effect on our health, too. Research has shown that people who cultivate negative energy experience more stress, more sickness, and less opportunity over the course of their lives than those who choose to live positively.

When we make a decision to become positive, and follow that decision up with action, we will begin to encounter situations and people that are also positive. The negative energy gets edged out by all positive experiences. It’s a snowball effect.

Although negative and positive thoughts will always exist, the key to becoming positive is to limit the amount of negativity that we experience by filling ourselves up with more positivity.

Here are some ways to get rid of negativity and become more positive.

1. Become Grateful for Everything

When life is all about us, it’s easy to believe that we deserve what we have. An attitude of entitlement puts us at the center of the universe and sets up the unrealistic expectation that others should cater to us, our needs, and our wants. This vain state of existence is a surefire way to set yourself up for an unfulfilled life of negativity.

People living in this sort of entitlement are “energy suckers”–they are always searching for what they can get out of a situation. People that don’t appreciate the nuances of their lives live in a constant state of lacking. And it’s really difficult to live a positive life this way.

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When we begin to be grateful and appreciate everything in our lives–from the small struggles that make us better, to the car that gets us from A to B every day–we shift our attitude from one of selfishness, to one of appreciation. This appreciation gets noticed by others, and a positive harmony begins to form in our relationships.

We begin to receive more of that which we are grateful for, because we’ve opened ourselves up to the idea of receiving, instead of taking. This will make your life more fulfilling, and more positive.

2. Laugh More, Especially at Yourself

Life gets busy, our schedules fill up, we get into relationships, and work can feel task oriented and routine-driven at times. Being human can feel more like being a robot. But having this work-driven, serious attitude often results in negative and performance oriented thinking.

Becoming positive means taking life less seriously and letting yourself off the hook. This is the only life that you get to live, why not lighten up your mood?

Laughter helps us become positive by lightening our mood and reminding us not to take life so seriously. Are you sensitive to light sarcasm? Do you have trouble laughing at jokes? Usually, people who are stressed out and overly serious get most offended by sarcasm because their life is all work and no play.

If we can learn to laugh at ourselves and our mistakes, life will become more of an experiment in finding out what makes us happy. And finding happiness means finding positivity.

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3. Help Others

Negativity goes hand in hand with selfishness. People that live only for themselves have no higher purpose in their lives. If the whole point of this world is only to take care of yourself and no one else, the road to a long-term fulfillment and purpose is going to be a long one.

Positivity accompanies purpose. The most basic way to create purpose and positivity in your life is to begin doing things for others. Start small; open the door for the person in front of you at Starbucks or ask someone how their day was before telling them about yours.

Helping others will give you an intangible sense of value that will translate into positivity. And people might just appreciate you in the process.

4. Change Your Thinking

We can either be our best coach or our best enemy. Change starts from within. If you want to become more positive, change the wording of your thoughts. We are the hardest on ourselves, and a stream of negative self talk is corrosive to a positive life.

The next time you have a negative thought, write it down and rephrase it with a positive spin. For example, change a thought like, “I can’t believe I did so horribly on the test–I suck.” to “I didn’t do as well as I hoped to on this test. But I know I’m capable and I’ll do better next time.”

Changing our self-talk is powerful.

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5. Surround Yourself with Positive People

We become most like the people that we surround ourselves with. If our friend group is full of negative energy-suckers and drama queens, we will emulate that behavior and become like them. It is very difficult to become more positive when the people around us don’t support or demonstrate positive behavior.

As you become more positive, you’ll find that your existing friends will either appreciate the new you or they will become resistant to your positive changes. This is a natural response.

Change is scary; but cutting out the negative people in your life is a huge step to becoming more positive. Positive people reflect and bounce their perspectives onto one another. Positivity is a step-by-step process when you do it solo, but a positive group of friends can be an escalator.

6. Get into Action

Negative thoughts can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate. Negativity is usually accompanied by a “freak-out” response, especially when tied to relationships, people and to worrying about the future. This is debilitating to becoming positive and usually snowballs into more worry, more stress and more freak-outs.

Turn the negative stress into positive action. The next time you’re in one of these situations, walk away and take a break. With your eyes closed, take a few deep breaths. Once you’re calm, approach the situation or problem with a pen and pad of paper. Write out four or five actions or solutions to begin solving the problem.

Taking yourself out of the emotionally charged negative by moving into the action-oriented positive will help you solve more problems rationally and live in positivity

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7. Take Full Responsibility, Stop Being the Victim

You are responsible for your thoughts.

People that consistently believe that things happen to them handicap themselves to a victim mentality. This is a subtle and deceptive negative thought pattern. Phrases like “I have to work” or “I can’t believe he did that to me” are indicators of a victim mentality. Blaming circumstances and blaming others only handicaps our decision to change something negative into something positive.

Taking full responsibility for your life, your thoughts and your actions is one of the biggest steps in creating a more positive life. We have unlimited potential within to create our own reality, change our life, and change our thoughts. When we begin to really internalize this, we discover that no one can make us feel or do anything. We choose our emotional and behavioral response to people and circumstances.

Make positive choices in favor of yourself.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny” ― Lao Tzu

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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