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How to Beat Writer’s Block the Hard Way

How to Beat Writer’s Block the Hard Way

    If you have written for an extended period of time, whether it be for your own personal blog, work, school, or all of the above, having writer’s block is inevitable. Breaking writer’s block isn’t an easy thing to do. So, instead of taking the easy way out, here are the hard ways to beat writer’s block, one day and one bad idea at a time.

    Force yourself

    I have a recurring daily task that simply says “force yourself to brainstorm article ideas for 25 minutes”. This reminder pings me every single day when I get home from work. The idea behind it is to not merely look at it and say to myself, “well, I don’t really have any ideas, so I will just check it off and try again tomorrow.” Oh, no.

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    The idea of “forcing myself” brings about a sort of rage and stubbornness inside. For the most part, people can’t stand being told what to do. So use this as a way to motivate yourself to action. Get mad and start writing.

    Write, no matter what

    Even if you think you don’t have enough time, are too tired, did too much work, have no ideas, whatever. It all doesn’t matter and it’s probably bullshit anyways. The only way to keep writing is to keep writing.

    We have talked about the 750 words a day habit that everyone (even non-writers) should keep to invoke creativity and flow in our lives. Making yourself write 750 words a day is a good first step to beat writer’s block one day at a time. As you keep writing more and more the ideas like “I don’t have any ideas” and “I’ll just write tomorrow” go out the window. We have to make a habit of writing consistently, no matter what.

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    Embrace bad ideas

    Are you not writing because your ideas suck? Yeah, well, join the club. Most ideas for writing (or anything for that matter) aren’t very good. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t embrace them and try to run with them.

    Keep a list of all of your ideas and start writing about them even if you think they are completely horrible. It’s a challenging thing to do; writing about something that you think is a bad idea. But, what can happen while writing is that your bad idea takes a turn into a better one and then possibly into something you never thought it would get to.

    It’s hard work to write through bad ideas, but the practice of it will surely break writer’s block and even help you produce some awesome content that is worth your time.

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    Write about uncomfortable things

    Here at Lifehack and my site DevBurner I tend to write about productivity and technology. These topics can be sometimes personal, but nothing like hunkering down and writing about my personal life, my feelings, what I can’t stand about myself or about the people around me, etc.

    Writing about the tough things in life can bring about ideas that you can use elsewhere. You also get to learn about yourself in the process and by doing that can sometimes see why you get writer’s block in the first place.

    Publish something everyday

    This combines all of the above ways to beat writer’s block into one. Get a personal blog, Tumblr, whatever and publish something every single day, no matter what. This is a tactic that I haven’t implemented yet, but what it does is get you in the habit of writing about anything and everything, embracing and trying out different/bad ideas, and to not take yourself so seriously.

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    Yes, you may be criticized, laughed at, scoffed at, whatever. You can make the site anonymous if you like. What you may find is that you produce something fabulous that people can look up to you for and that you can be proud of. You may be able to take this daily content and put together a book or spin it off into another site. It doesn’t really matter.

    Publishing everyday is a great way to beat writer’s block the hard way.

    Conclusion

    Writer’s block is a pain in the ass. So, instead of being afraid of it and letting it control you, it’s time to fight back and be a pain in the ass to writer’s block.

    These ways to beat writer’s block aren’t easy, but they work. They do take time and dedication but in my experience (and many other’s) it’s the only way to keep yourself writing for the long run.

    (Photo credit: pen and notebook via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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