Someone once told me that a writer’s block is a rite of passage like it was a mandatory step for anyone who wanted to become an actual writer. Since then, I foolishly embraced the idea of a writer’s block and it lasted with me for a very long time. On days when I simply couldn’t write, I did absolutely nothing to overcome writer’s block.
It wasn’t because I took comfort in knowing how common it was among all writers. But rather, I considered it as a sign of maturity; that my writing skills were getting better! After all, I usually get writer’s block after writing a lot of pages. There should be some progress within the time and effort that I spent. It wasn’t until much later on when I realized that I’ve mistakenly measured my skill by the number of words I’ve written.
Surprisingly, I did not graduate with an English degree or any other course that involved writing. I was an Industrial Design major because I thought that it was the wiser decision at the time. Don’t get me wrong though – I loved writing as much as I still do today. But unfortunately, I had no confidence and zero faith in myself to pursue it.
Writing for became something I did during my free time. And because I was writing on the side, it didn’t matter to me whether or not I wrote something every day. I could continue to live my life without writing for months.
In my last year at university, I felt miserable. I realized industrial design wasn’t my thing and I felt terrible for wasting years of education on something I wasn’t passionate about. This was the time when I picked up my pen and paper and started writing again. I wanted to know so badly if I went down the wrong path and if a writing career had been the better choice for me.
Unfortunately, getting back into the habit of writing was terribly difficult. I had the worst of all writer’s block anyone could imagine. I had zero ideas coming in and my writing was painful to read but I kept going anyway. It took a long while for me to understand that there wasn’t such a thing as a writer’s block in the first place. If you wanted something badly enough, you’ll make it work, no matter what the cost. If I hadn’t pushed myself to do so, I wouldn’t be here writing this article today.
Writer’s Block: Just Another Excuse
Plenty of writers are in search of ways to overcome writer’s block every day. And it’s always great to learn from esteemed writers because who knows? Their strategies might work out for you. But I truly believe that all it takes is a change of perspective. The only way to overcome writer’s block is to first realize that it’s just us trying to make an excuse to not write.
The struggle you’re experiencing with your writing isn’t the effect of a writer’s block – it’s just you being stuck for the moment. And yes, they may sound like the same thing but they are actually 2 very different situations. I think that a writer’s block means that you are in great danger as a writer. It hinders you from writing anything completely and the worst part of it all is when you don’t do anything to overcome it.
But the reality is that as long as you can still write physically, you aren’t actually blocked from writing. If you’re facing difficulties with your writing, there are plenty of ways to get unstuck. Sadly, many writers fail to realize this so they end up believing that nothing else can be done. Instead of finding solutions to the problem, they give up and wait for inspiration to come. But we all know that inspiration doesn’t appear out of thin air.
Common Causes Of Writer’s Block
Although I’m a non-believer of writer’s block, it doesn’t mean that I ignore its symptoms. I know how frustrating it is when you can’t find the right words or the right materials that make your story. If you are feeling stuck with your work, it’s very important to understand what brought you there in the first place. Listed below are some of the typical culprits of a writer’s block:
If you’re anything like me, writing too much can break me and drain out my creative juices. The more I force myself to write something, the more I begin to resent it. Everything I’ve written from that moment on sounds like total garbage. Even if you are in the heat of your project, be sure to give yourself regular breaks. It is a big investment for your health and for your writing project as well.
As a young author just starting out with her career, I used to feel pressured by those who are much more experienced than me. It took me years to finally realize that I’ve wasted my time looking at the work of others that I did not spend much time focusing on my own. Perhaps you’re feeling stuck today because you too have been constantly comparing your work with the work of others.
Here’s a tip: if you really want to be successful as a writer, stop looking at the papers of others – no wonder you still have a blank page. Focus on what’s in front of you and just start writing.
There’s a lot to be grateful for the existence of computers in our lives today. Everything is just a lot easier. It’s easy to manage files and documents, it’s great for research and very, very easy to delete work we don’t like. I’ve reason to believe that the ‘delete’ key on my laptop is the most battered of them all (next to the spacebar)
But I’m not blaming it on the computer. The ease of deleting and re-editing work might be a catalyst but I do know that the real culprit is my indecisiveness. I’ve spent too much time rewriting work I’ve already done because I wasn’t satisfied with my work. It’s not a surprise that I can’t get past a few pages if I keep rewriting it all the time.
The idea of perfect is a writer’s worst enemy. This goes for anyone who is in the creative field as well. People say that there is no such thing as perfect, but I personally think that there is! For me, perfect means being satisfied and happy with whatever achievement I’ve accomplished. If I feel positive about a piece that I wrote, it’s already good for me.
However, striving for other people’s idea of perfection is a meaningless endeavor. That fear of not meeting the standards of others will eventually eat you up and stop you from completing your work. So instead of trying to make everybody happy with your work, start making work that makes you proud of yourself as a writer instead.
How To Overcome Writer’s Block
If you’re reading this now, chances are you’re feeling stuck as though your creative juices have finally gone dry. But don’t worry, there are a lot of solutions that can still be done. Below are some of my favorite go-to strategies whenever I’m feeling the effects of a writer’s block:
1. Go Somewhere New
I always feel revived after a vacation out of town but unfortunately, not all of us have the luxury of going on a trip whenever we want. One way to recreate the experience of a vacation is to go someplace you’ve never been to in your neighborhood.
If you can afford a short trip out of the city, then go for it. But if all you have is half a day and local public transportation, opt for someplace closer to home. It might be a gallery, a new cafe or even the library. Going to a place you’ve never been to can open your eyes to what’s around you. And it’s always great to have a change of environment once in a while. Who knows? You might bump into your next big idea.
2. Visit A Museum
This is my ultimate favorite way of getting unstuck from a writer’s block. If you look a little bit closer, history has a lot of interesting stories to tell with equally interesting characters. Every time I visit a museum, I learn new things and you leave with a ton of inspiration. It seems that after every trip to a museum, I feel refreshed and motivated to write.
I don’t consider myself to be a history buff but there’s something thrilling about revisiting a time before my own generation. Their lifestyles are just so different from ours and you get to learn about how they lived their lives and what kinds of problems they encountered. For me, it’s a great resource for inspiration – especially if you are writing historical fiction.
3. Go Down Memory Lane
If history isn’t your thing, I’m sure there is a different kind of history that might interest you: your own childhood. Back when we were kids, we had a lot more creative freedom than we do today. We allowed ourselves to play, to explore and when we made mistakes, we made fun of ourselves without feeling too bad about it. This is why I believe that a lot of good stories can come out of our own childhood memories. I can’t tell you how weird I was as a kid and all the mischief that I’ve managed within my own home. But maybe I can use these memories in a story instead? It’s less embarrassing and a lot of fun to write about.
4. Disconnect From Writing
I know I’ve said that in order to overcome writer’s block, you would need to continue writing. But depending on the person, maybe taking a short break would be a better option. Whenever I get too burned out from my writing projects, I begin to feel pressured and resentful of my own writing. It’s an unhealthy habit to hate your own writing so instead of forcing the issue, I just let it go for a while.
Feel free to step away from your writing desk and do something else. Spend some time away from your usual workplace and come back when you’re ready. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just wait for inspiration to come before you start writing again. Try the other options above while you’re away.
Alternatively, you can also write all you can on a Word document or on a piece of paper. Some people get stuck because they are too concerned about stringing the right words together. They need to check grammar rules and formatting constantly before they can move on from one sentence to another. Although there’s nothing wrong about correct grammar, it shouldn’t keep you from actually writing the whole story.
As they say, the first draft will always be sloppy. This is the reason why writers edit their work after writing a full piece. Practice getting the words out first by writing all you can onto a sheet of paper. Free yourself from grammar rules and just let the words come out first.
6. Sleep On It
The simplest reason why you can’t write at the moment might be because of the fact that you are exhausted. No matter what type of job you do, nothing productive can ever be produced if you are feeling tired. Your performance decreases and the quality of your work is not at its best either. Do yourself a favor and get some rest.
7. Play A Game
Overcoming writer’s block doesn’t always have to be a solo act. Invite some friends over and play some board games. Writing as a professional can be very solitary and you don’t always have the opportunity to spend time with other people. So why not take a short break and catch up with your loved ones too?
By playing a game, you are still working out your creativity without forcing yourself to come up with something for your story. You can play any game that you like but there are also some storytelling games out there that might help you out of your writer’s block.
Tell Me Your Story
I understand that a writer’s block is something difficult to overcome. Tell me about the times when you were stuck creatively and what you did to get over it. Share your writer’s block remedies in the comments section below. Also, let me know if you’ve tried out any of the tips listed above. I’d like to know if it worked out for you.