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In the previous article, we talked about—I mean, I talked about what causes Writer’s Block. In this article, I will finally reveal the cure, okay that sounds like Writer’s Block is a virus.
Please don’t rant at me if you haven’t able to cure your Writer’s Block after reading this article. It’s you…not me.
Writer’s block is a much-argued topic among writers. A few believe that no such thing exists and that it’s all in the head, a few argue that writer’s block is super real, (and I am one of them) and a few writers do not really care about this matter.
Whatever the case may be, most writers can understand the agony of writer’s block. The bleakness and disheartenment that sets in are enough to send the writer on a frantic search for a solution.
Did you expect that? Regular workers have sick leaves whenever they are sick. Why? Because they are not that well to be productive. Poor health can lead to brain fog and low energy which causes writer’s block.
One of the best ways to cure writer’s block, believe it or not, is by engaging in physical activities. Get some blood flowing in your brain!
Exercise has been proven (by professionals, not me) to reduce stress, improve focus, increase productivity and enhance memory.
Move your body, go for a walk, start jogging, dance. Whatever it is, the most important thing is to keep your body healthy.
Research suggests that physical exercise can improve creativity and problem solving, which are both needed for writing.
As a bonus…you will also burn some calories. *winks*
The best way to contest perfectionism is to remind yourself that you’re just working on the first draft. Be gentle to yourself. Writing isn’t a life-and-death situation. You’re not a surgeon who should cut the skin perfectly for the first time.
By thinking that the first draft can be imperfect, bad, in fact, can take the pressure off to get it just right. It’s always easier to rewrite, edit, tweak, and improve a piece of imperfect writing than to edit a blank page.
This could relate to #1. By walking or jogging, you can have a change of scenery. Go out of your room and find a different place.
Go to the nearest bus station, book store, 711, park, and watch people. Umm. Not in a creepy way, of course.
Find a sweet spot where you can watch people without being creepy. Take your notebook and start observing. Think.
What could be that guy on the phone talking about? Is he a spy?
What could be that older man on the bench looked like when he was young? Did he serve the military? Was he a hero in World War?
Look at those couples. What could be their last argument? How did they possibly meet?
Look at that student writing something inside Starbucks. What if she’s killing people by writing their names in her ‘death note’?
Look, you don’t have to ask them the answers to your questions. This is when your imagination will come in.
Relax and enjoy the world around you. The chances are that your fictional characters could be inspired by reality.
This is the first and major cause of Writer’s Block.
Are you scared of criticism even if they are constructive? Are you scared of being compared to much-better writers? Do you think you are not good enough? Are you worried that no one will ever read your work? Are you intimidated by better writers or to your own plot?
Whatever those fears are, accept them. They are REAL.
But don’t let them stop you from progressing, for being better.
There will be someone who will always be better than you. There will always be people who will criticize and judge your works. And finally thinking that you are good enough, will stop you from improving yourself.
Follow a routine, make writing a habit. Most successful writers have a strict writing schedule, and they STICK WITH IT.
Block the distractions, concentrate, tell people you’re working and that they should f*ck off…I mean that you are busy and that they should leave you alone.
For example, you have ten hours per week to write; you should schedule them in a regular pattern. Like two hours per day in five days. Monday to Friday, from 5 PM to 7 PM. This way, you can make it into a habit that you will be writing per day at that time.
Are you too busy to even add this to your schedule, well, I have a surprise for you: you won’t find the time, you need to make it. You need to sacrifice something—maybe two episodes of your favorite Netflix series.
Make sure it’s not family time—your family should always be your top priority.
We all find time for what we really want to do. Many writers insist they don’t have time to write, but they could still binge-watch Korean dramas or do movie marathons. (haha I am not against this, in fact, I relate to this.)
How important is it to you to write your story? What can you sacrifice in your schedule?
Start anywhere you feel like writing. You don’t have to necessarily have the title, the blurb, or the opening line first. You can start in the climax, who cares? Don’t think about the chronological sequence. Being able to write something is better than nothing. As I’ve said, you are not a surgeon who needs to do everything correctly and accordingly. You can stitch them seamlessly with your writer’s ability when your prolific Muse is back.
Write the scene that you are excited to write even if it’s in the middle. This was my problem before—fillers.
I am unsure how to connect a particular scene or part, but I can’t skip it because the story will just sound so wrong. So as I tried to avoid writing the scene, I completely stopped writing the story.
Then, I forget all the exciting scenes in the middle that I am excited to write about. Don’t be like me. Just skip writing the fillers or that scene you couldn’t figure out how to write (for now). No one is monitoring you and telling you how to write your book. Tell that Perfectionist Editor voice to shut up first. Write the scenes that excite you. Keep the problematic parts that threaten to burn you out for the last. At least, you won’t forget and sacrifice the other scenes you WANTED to write about because you are stuck on that scene.
Another thing, write anything that you see, hear, or feel. Write about how your mum nagging at you. It doesn’t matter what you write, just write. I actually need to write about my novel right now, but here I am writing about writer’s block. LOL
Do not stop enjoying writing.
Isn’t this the first reason anyway why you started it?
Read. And read. Read some more.
Reading exposes us to other writing styles, other writing voices, forms, and genres of writing. It also improves our vocabulary.
Also, reading is a universal remedy for all sorts of emotional troubles. You could find inspiration for writing.
Watch great movies. You are not going to steal their ideas; you are just looking for inspiration. It could also help you relax your mind.
Generate inspiration from words. Look for words and their meanings: grab a new dictionary and look up new words.
Think of why you were writing in the first place. What inspired you to write? Consider going back to it.
Some people want to express how they feel, their opinions. They write to break social inequalities and discriminations, expose political faux pas without using violence.
I started writing because I have too much in mind that I wanted to share it with others.
There’s a quote from Toni Morrison that I couldn’t forget and also became my reason for writing, it goes like this: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
Declutter your workstation. Your writing environment and workspace play a huge role in how you feel and how you keep the creative juices flowing. So if you ever feel stuck just get up and declutter your workspace as it helps to declutter the mind too.
Sometimes your writer’s block arises not because you lack inspiration, but because your surroundings are completely uninspiring. Lol
After all, an untidy room with dirty laundry scattered about hardly seems like a place where your best ideas will hit your mind.
Tune in with your favorite music. I find it hugely stimulating to listen to jazz or classical music—it helps me get the creative juices flowing. It varies per person, though.
Sometimes I want to listen to something that will help me set my mood. For example, if I am writing a sad scene, I prefer to listen to sad songs. It is like having theme songs per scene.
So, my advice is, listen to your kind of music. If you are stressed out at not being able to produce a considerable number of words, music can help assuage this stress. Moreover, if your writer’s block exists because you find it difficult to concentrate, music can help increase your focus. It can even bring forth fresh ideas in your mind.
Have you noticed that there are lots of writers in coffee shops? That’s because they have everything they need—the ambiance, the relaxing music, sweets, and most importantly, COFFEE.
Coffee can really help you get in the mood for writing. It gives you the energy and wakes you up—and the Muse. Coffee is a stimulant that can fight exhaustion and help you commit to the task at hand.
Now you know why writers love coffee.
I’ll repeat it AGAIN for the nth time, don’t try to write the perfect first draft. When you’re working in your MS Word, you’ll see those red and blue lines on your writing. Your Perfectionist Editor Self is triggered and will start to whisper to edit them and right click and find the perfect word for every word.
By using pen and paper, you could avoid this. The bonus is that there will be fewer distractions compared to when you are using a computer with internet access.
For many people, ideas refuse to flow when they are typing, but they come pouring out when they make use of pen and paper. You could start by randomly scribbling the thoughts that come to your mind and see if they make any sense.
Also, you could make use of the pen and paper to doodle as doodling has been known to spurt creativity.
Write. The last point but the most crucial one. I saved this for the final because even though this is the most effective solution to Writer’s Block and all writers know this, they still run away from it.
Margaret Atwood once said, “Do it, however crumby the result may be. At least you are moving.”
Don’t think much and just write. Write anything and finish it. Don’t think you are writing for anyone else, but for yourself. Don’t mind if you have the wrong grammar, if what you are writing doesn’t even make sense.
It will be hard, but you have to write that first word, and then the second, then the third, and so on.
This is how you overcome the invisible force that holds you back from doing what you love.
At the end of the day, after you have tried out most of the above solutions, you will realize that it is easier just to write than dwell in the sadness of being hit by Writer’s Block.
Okay, writer’s block has hit, which means you cannot write anything on your topic, but that doesn’t mean you cannot write anything at all! Scribbling down anything and everything that comes to your mind can get your thoughts out.
That’s how you can cure your Writer’s Block. But there’s an idiom that says, “Prevention is better than cure.”
So is there a way to prevent having Writer’s Block in the first place? Good news, there are.
We writer gets writer’s block because we know on some point, we experience lethargy. The subconscious clamps down on the brakes, stop the creative juices, and say “Whoa. Whoa there. Stop. Rest. I can’t do this anymore! This is slavery!”
Make sure you are resting well. Rest is crucial to writers. Be strong: body and mind. Simplify your life as much as you can while maintaining a discipline of learning and observation.
Take care of yourself. Eat, sleep, stare at some trees, do some yoga, ease your anxiety, and make sure all parts of your brain understand it is not time to think about your plot holes or to plan, or to worry. Tell your characters to stop bugging you.
Don’t pressure yourself into writing a masterpiece; don’t think about quality at all. Just put out a rough draft you can improve on later. Relax.
Distractions are our Muse arch-nemesis. You can’t make the creative juices flow in your creativity river if distractions surround you.
Internet is one of the biggest distractions, your phone, your browser, social media, emails, online shopping—So, what can you do?
Simple, give yourself some time to write every day, either in the morning (if you are a morning person) or late at night.
Write daily. Even though you have no idea what to write, write something. Let it be your routine, your habit. The things you write don’t also need to be creative. Just scribble something.
Writing every day even for only 30 minutes stimulates the brain and keeps it working. It will actually help you think of new ideas to write about and new angles to discuss.
This is my experience with writer’s block.
I struggle with writer’s block for years because of Fear and Perfectionism. Deadly combi, I swear. I was scared. I started to compare my works to everyone. Instead of using “reading” to find inspiration—I used it to find works that I could compare to mine, and of course, they are all better.
Perfectionism became my shield from my fears. Maybe if I make it perfect, they won’t criticize my work? I started to seek approval in everything I write.
I started to hate…writing.
I have a lot of unfinished novels—even now.
I stopped writing for a few years, but since writing became a part of my full-time job now, I don’t have a choice but to start writing again.
Most newbie writers rely on inspiration or Muse to get them through and keep them writing, but the problem is…the Muse is not a good writing companion.
When we started to rely on her, she will just ghost us along the way—what a bitch. Getting excited about your own story ideas is an addicting feeling. You can’t stop talking and thinking about it. But just like an addiction, it has a high passion when you’re on it, but expect a hangover after.
That is when it is most challenging to write when Muse left us all alone. When she stops inspiring us. Inspiration is only a small piece of writing. What you need to have is the habit of writing and the skills—real skills.
It may not be for many people. Writing a to-do list and schedules works for other people, not for others.
If I try to tell you to create a schedule and stick on it, it might just contribute to your writer’s block instead of being able to overcome it, especially if you are not a schedule-type of person. Don’t pressure yourself.
See what will work for you. You can exercise, you can clean your space, you can start reading—you can do all the 13 methods and find some of them helpful, or even none at all. That’s why I have a disclaimer at the start …again, it’s you, not me. Lol
Your writer’s block cause might be different from mine; that’s why any of these didn’t work for you. The good news is, when you discover the real cause of your Writer’s Block, it is easier to look for ways on how to overcome it. When you do find it, you will be able to move forward and write again.
Good luck! I hope you will find your way out of that writer’s block hole soon.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? What helps you to push through it? Leave your own tips in the comments section below.