Advertising
Advertising

8 Effective Ways To Overcome Writers’ Block

8 Effective Ways To Overcome Writers’ Block

Writers’ block occurs all the time, and seems impossible to avoid. There are, though, steps you can take to prevent it, sometimes before it even starts happening. Here are some effective ways to kickstart your brain.

1. Write Down Ideas As They Come To You

Not being able to come up with ideas is the worst. You’re ready to write, but you don’t have the engine you need to get rolling. The best way to circumvent this particular brand of writers’ block is to have a lot of ideas already at your disposal. You’re going to come up with ideas when you least expect it, and you should always be prepared to archive them. You can use your smartphone to note your ideas. You can use a a barebones writing app like Drafts to get the ideas down as quickly as possible, and a note taking service like Evernote to compile them for future use.

Advertising

2. Commit To Your Idea

Sometimes you might not be 100% confident with your idea, and your indecisiveness prevents you from turning that idea into something tangible. Instead of being productive with the idea you have, you’re spending all your time trying to come up with something better. After a while, though, you stop deliberating and start stalling. If that’s the kind of writers’ block you’re suffering from, just accept that your idea isn’t flawless and start executing it as best you can. The idea isn’t nearly as much the power of a story as the words that tell it.

3. Be Far Enough Ahead To Work On Whatever You Want

A lot of writers’ block doesn’t occur because you can’t write anything. It’s because you’re stuck while you’re working on a particular piece of writing. If you have more than one type of assignment, be far enough ahead in your schedule that you can work on the project you’re most inspired by today. If you do only have one kind of assignment, look to diversify your writing responsibilities so that you can avoid unnecessary writers’ block and significantly increase your productivity.

Advertising

4. Break The Writing Process Into Multiple Parts

I didn’t write this article right from start to finish. First, I took some time to wrap my head around the topic. Then I chose sub-headings. After that, I drafted a basic outline. Only then did I start writing. Because of that pre-work, the actual writing was much easier, leading to fewer roadblocks on the path from pen to paper. Make it as easily as possible to avoid writers’ block by doing as much preparation you can before you even start the hard part.

5. Go To Where Things Stopped Working

A lot of the time writers’ block is a subconscious warning that what you’ve already written isn’t working. If you’re experiencing writers’ block, peruse what you’ve already got down and see if there’s a part of it in which you swerved right when you should have taken a hard left. Then go back to that wrong turn and correct your course.

Advertising

6. Jump Ahead

Your story doesn’t have to be written chronologically. This article wasn’t. If you’re experiencing writers’ block because you’re not excited about what you’re “supposed” to write next, jump to a point in your story that you are excited to write. As long as you’re careful with your revisions, no one will even notice that parts of your story were written out of order.

7. Turn What You’re Stuck On Into A Writing Exercise

Not sure where your story should go next? Make a list of all the directions your story could possibly take. Don’t worry if some of them are ridiculous; the point is to loosen your writing muscles. Once you’ve limbered up you’ll be ready to rock.

Advertising

8. Don’t Dread

Writers’ block is so often rooted in fear. You’re scared that what you’re about to write won’t be good enough, or won’t meet your wild expectations. That dread is debilitating, so get past it by not taking the time to feel insecure. Just start, even if you’re not convinced of your abilities, because time spent stalling is better spent writing, even if you throw all of it out. You’re already at your keyboard, so don’t hesitate to type away.

Featured photo credit: Sharon Drummond via flickr.com

More by this author

Matt OKeefe

Freelance Writer, Marketer

15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted) The 10 Best Online Dictionaries 15 Easy Ways For Everyone To Make Money With Social Media 7 Ways To Give Great Feedback This Is What The Cozy Home Designed By 2000 People Looks Like

Trending in Productivity

1 7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages 2 How to Improve Your Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways 3 11 Tactics on Increasing Brain Power, Memory, and Motivation 4 How to Use More of Your Brain to Become More Productive and Happy 5 Master These 10 Management Skills to Become a Strong Leader

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on February 21, 2019

7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages

7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages

Forgot a name? Misplaced your keys? Taking longer to find the right words? Don’t panic. There’s plenty you can do to improve your memory.

You’re probably expecting us to reveal 7 little known and newly discovered herbs from the forests of the Amazon, the peaks of the Himalayas and the Arctic tundra. No such luck.

Despite Americans spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on Ginkgo Biloba, Ashwagandha, Periwinkle, Bacopa, Vitamin B’s, Omega 3’s and memory boosting supplement cocktails, there is very little scientific evidence they actually work. [1]

Instead, we’re going to offer you 7 completely natural memory boosters, backed up by scientific research. It may take a little more effort than a magic memory pill, but the benefits will transcend your memory and improve your overall quality of life as well, making you more fit, energetic, happy and sharp.

How Do We Remember?

The first process in remembering is creating a memory.

This is where our brain sends a signal, associated with a thought, event or piece of information our mind is processing, over our brains neural pathways, called synapses.

Think of our neural pathways like roads and information like trucks. The better the roads, the more trucks can be driven.

The second step in remembering is memory consolidation.

Consolidation is when the brain takes that thought, event or piece of information and actually stores it in the brain. So now we’re talking about taking delivery of the trucks and storing its contents in the warehouse.

Consolidation helps us store information and label it properly, so its organized and easy to retrieve when needed.

Advertising

The last step is memory retrieval.

That’s the step whereby we try to retrieve the information stored in our brains. You know when you have the name of someone on the tip of your tongue.

You have the information; it’s been stored, but you just can’t find it. Our memory recall is typically better the stronger the memory is and the more often we’ve used it.

Memory decline is a normal part of aging. However, new scientific research is discovering many new ways for us to improve memory creation, consolidation and retrieval–no matter our age.

7 Natural Memory Boosters

So how to work on memory and boost your brain power? Here’re 7 brain boosters backed by science that you should try:

1. Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic activity is about as close as we get to a magic pill for our memories. Exercise helps your brain create new capillaries and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which creates new brain cells and connections. To put it in plain english, aerobic activity changes our brains and helps it grow.

Studies have shown that exercising increases the size of the hippocampus and improves memory. In fact, even if you start exercising as an older adult, you can reverse cognitive decline by 1 to 2 years and protects against further decreases in the size of the hippocampus, which is essential for memory. [2]

In another study, reviewed by Dr. Ian Robertson of the University of Dublin, they looked at a group of people of 60 years and older, who engaged in “active walking” for four months.

They compared them with another group of people who only stretched over the same period of time. After testing both groups before and after the 4 month period, the walkers improved their memory and attention considerably more than the stretching group.

So which exercises are best and how much do we have to exercise?

Advertising

Turns out, it doesn’t really matter whether you run, swim, row or bike. What does matter is that you push yourself beyond your current abilities, keep doing more, keep getting better. Set yourself short term goals and keep pushing the goal posts.

2. Sleep

You need your sleep. The deeper the better. Sleep helps improve your procedural memory (how to do things, like how do I navigate my iPhone) and declarative memory (facts, like what’s my password). [3]

Even short naps from 6 to 45 minutes have been shown to improve your memory. In one Harvard study, college students memorized pairs of unrelated words, memorized a maze and copied a complex form. All were tested on their work. Half were then allowed to take a 45 minute nap. They were then retested. Those who took a nap, got a boost in their performance. [4]

Another study showed that getting REM (deep) sleep can increase your memory and mental performance by 33% to 73%. Getting a deep sleep helps the brain consolidate memories through dreams and “associative processing”. However, the study also revealed that heart rate variability in deep sleep also contributed significantly to increased memory performance. [5]

3. MIND Diet

Healthy eating, particularly more dark colored fruit, vegetables and oily fish has been shown to improve memory and stave off cognitive decline.

The MIND diet is proven to reduce the risk of dementia. It’s a mix of the popular Mediterranean diet and the low blood pressure DASH diet. [6]

The study kept track of the diets of almost 1,000 older adults. They were followed for an average of 4½ years.

The study concluded that “people whose diets were most strongly in line with the MIND diet had brains that functioned as if they were 7½ years younger than those whose diets least resembled this eating style.”

The study also showed that people who followed the MIND diet in the study reduced their chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease in half.

Advertising

So what does the MIND diet consist of? Lots of vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil, whole grains and wine.

4. Relax

We all know that stress is bad for our health. It can raise our blood pressure, impact our immune system and interrupt our sleep. Stress also impairs our memory.

When our body gets stressed, it releases cortisol into our blood stream, which can cause short and long term physical changes to the brain. While cortisol has sometimes been shown to cause increases in short term memory, it can actually decrease our long term recall memory.

To help reduce the stress in your life, try relaxing with meditation, yoga or breathing exercises. Unplug–even for just a few hours. Stop checking your emails, social accounts and news. Release some endorphins with some exercise.

Bottom line, the more anxious and stressed we are, the less clearly we think, the poorer our memory works.

5. Continuous Learning

The mind is like a muscle. The more you challenge it, the stronger it gets. The more you learn, the more you can learn.

Research shows that learning can actually change the physical makeup of your brain. Not too long ago, we used to think that you were born with a fixed amount of brain cells, which declined with age. New research now shows that we can actually increase the number of brain cells we have throughout our life.

Aside from staying physically active, learning new skills and studying can actually keep our brains healthier. Consider taking a continuing education class, studying a new language, learning a new instrument, playing new card games. [7]

Studies show that the more complex the task, the more benefits for your mind. Simply showing up to class is not enough. You need to be actively engaged. Anything that forces you to focus and learn something new and get out of a rote routine will help you sharpen your mind and boost your memory.

6. Stay Social

The more deep and meaningful social connections you maintain, the more you protect your brain. Bottom line, the more friends you have, the more people you work with, the more you’re forced to use your brain.

Advertising

Social isolation and loneliness are significant risks of dementia. Without interacting with others, our brains wilt. Isolation and loneliness lead to depression, physical and mental decline. [8]

In a 2016 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, seniors with a full social calendar did better on memory, reasoning, and processing speed tests. [9]

What to do?

Party! Seriously, get together with friends as often as possible. Have family dinners. Choose social activities or sports like tennis, golf, cards or go for walks with a friend. Bottom line have fun, build meaningful social relationships and stay connected. Not only will it make your mind sharper and your memory better, you’ll be happier, too!

7. Wakeful Rest

This one is getting harder and harder to do. In a world where we can’t sit on a bus, go up an elevator or go to the bathroom without our phones, doing absolutely nothing to distract our minds is becoming increasingly difficult.

But, the results are in. Doing nothing is great for your memory. Quietly resting for 10 minutes, after you learn something will help you remember and help you create more detailed memories. [10]

What we do minutes after we learn something new has a significant impact on how well we retain the new information. In another study, it didn’t matter what you did after you learned something new, as long as you weren’t distracted by outside factors. In other words, you could be thinking of your day, making a grocery list, or thinking of a story. In either case, wakeful rest for a period of 10 minutes helped the brain process and consolidate your memories so that you were better able to recall the information at a later date. [11]

Conclusion

You don’t have to spend a dime on cocktails and supplements promising a quick boost to your memory power. There is very little conclusive scientific evidence suggesting supplements will help improve the memories of healthy individuals–not for Ginkgo Biloba, Vitamin B, fish oils, Vitamin D, Folate or other supplements claiming they a secret formula.

There are far cheaper and more effective ways to boost your memory: exercise, rest, eat well, learn, love, laugh and relax. Who wouldn’t want that prescription?

More Resources About Boost Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next