We’ve all been there. You sit down to write and… nothing. For some reason, you cannot commit words to page.
There are two main types of writer’s block: lack of inspiration and being too in your own head. Identifying which type of writer’s block you have can be paramount to overcoming it.
Lack of Inspiration
Sometimes, your mind just goes blank. You cannot think of a single thing to say. Everything has already been done before and you feel unoriginal and lost. Whether you’re writing an essay or a novel, sometimes you just feel like the wellspring of your creativity has run dry. Fortunately, with this problem, all you need to do is work to get the juices flowing again. Here are a few ways to jumpstart that process:
Put aside the actual writing and just brainstorm.
Jot down ideas, words even. Think of anything you could possibly write about. Draw from all aspects of your life, your favorite books, and movies. Eventually, something may strike you. You could find a unique voice, a fresh perspective, an interesting topic, the plot twist you need to delve into writing. Perhaps you’ll feel that, when this exercise concluded, nothing stuck. Look again. How can you combine some of these ideas? The combination of two uninspired ideas can create something fresh and unique.
Look—it’s not going to be amazing. It might not even be good. But write down something, anything. Write down what you did yesterday or one of your favorite anecdotes to tell at parties. Write predictions for what will happen in the TV show you’re watching next week or next season. It doesn’t matter what you write. You’re probably going to scrap it anyway. Just push through and write something.
Take a break.
Sometimes, you’re just burnt out. If you’ve been writing a lot or investing a lot of your creative energy into other projects, you might just not have the mental capacity and creative energy to write right now. So take a break. Read. Take a walk. Veg out and watch some TV. Take a nap. Exercise. Talk to a friend. Do something you enjoy. Then come back with fresh eyes.
Being Too In Your Own Head
Sometimes, we let our inner critic get the best of us. Nothing is good enough; it’s not quite right. When stuck in your own head, you may find that, while you know what you want to write about, you can’t wrap your head around the how. The phrasing isn’t right, it’s not how you want it to sound, you can’t figure out the order of the words or the way the pieces fit together. There are a few ways to overcome what’s stopping you.
This is going to sound insensitive, but write anyway. Ignore the logistics of what is “right” and just get the ideas out. They are the essence of what you are trying to do. Don’t even think of this as a rough draft. Think of it as the notes you’ll refer to when you do write the rough draft. Use whatever form you need to: standalone paragraphs, disjointed from everything around them, bulletpoints, outlines, etc. Whatever it takes to get the ideas onto paper (or screen). Without them filling up your head, you can actually see what you have to work with.
Switch it up.
Normally write on a computer? Try writing by hand. Many people find that writing on a computer can be intimidating. It looks so final that it feels final, like you’re committing those words permanently. This is, of course, not the case. Writing is rewriting, and on a word processor, it is so easy to change things. But if this is you, paper can be your friend. It gives you an excuse to be messy, to feel free to write things in the margin if you forgot something when you were writing earlier, to cross out sections that didn’t work. It doesn’t feel permanent, so you can get out of your head and let the words flow.
Don’t write, speak.
Sometimes, we place less value on what we say than when we write, because writing leaves evidence behind while words disappear into thin air the moment they leave our lips, leaving no trace behind. Thus, some are more comfortable expressing themselves orally. So turn on a voice recorder or a camera and talk it out. Explore the story arcs. Tell the story like you were explaining it to a friend. Double back and give context you forgot to give before. Just talk. And when you’re done, save the file and put it away. Come back to writing later. Now that you’ve told the story aloud, it should have started to form in your head. It should be easier to get out now.
Did these tips work for you? What are some of your tips for overcoming writers block? Share below!