My undergraduate professor often told her students that there was no such thing as writer’s block. Of course we never believed her. Instead, we’d complain about writer’s block in dramatic and amusing ways. She never empathized. She would say, “Just sit down at your computer, stare at the screen, and type ‘I have nothing to write. I have nothing to write. I have nothing to write…’ again and again.” She guaranteed that we would find something to write after typing it over and over again.
Since graduating a few years ago, I’ve tried this trick about a dozen times when I’ve become stuck in either my creative or professional writing. It works; you really do get sick of typing it over and over again. Still, there are many ways to find a way to the page.
Ways around writer’s block
- Exercise or go for a walk. If you’re sitting at your desk with nothing to write, walking away for a bit is always helpful. Go get your blood moving a bit and pump some extra oxygen up to your brain. Coming back to the desk will be refreshing.
- Brew some coffee. Or cocoa. Or whatever it is you most enjoy. The familiar process of making something and then holding that warm cup of whatever will appease the brain.
- Brainstorm ideas. Make a list of things you could write about or outline what you need to write about. This way, you’ll have a place to begin.
- Eliminate distractions. Put your phone on silent and out of sight. Use an app to block the internet for an hour or two. Hide anything else that usually distracts you. Without everything begging for your attention, you’ll be able to find some serious time with just the page in front of you.
- Create a routine. Entering into a routine will help your body and mind get ready to write. Just like a morning routine or a bedtime routine, your body will prepare itself and you’ll become an efficient writing-machine.
- Find the time you write best. If you’re a freelancer, you have more of a window to write than a writer in an office. Find what time you write well. Are you a rise-and-shine writer or a stay-up-all-night writer? If you have a 9-5 job, consider how you can break up your day. Maybe use the mornings to send emails, and then the afternoons could provide some solid writing time to get the work done.
- Just write. If all else fails, just write something. Whether it’s ‘I have nothing to say’ over and over again or just free writing for a little while, eventually you’ll find a way into what you need to write.
Don’t enable your writer’s block
- Don’t procrastinate. It’s easy to find ten other things to do before doing what you need to do. It’s easy to spend a whole day procrastinating. Don’t push it off. Sit down and find a way to the page.
- Don’t wait until you feel like it. If you wait until you are inspired, until you have the words in your head, you’ll never find the words. So sit down, and tell yourself it’s time.
- Don’t read articles about overcoming writer’s block. Maybe this article helped you, or maybe you’re mad you spent a few moments of your valuable time reading it. Either way, quit procrastinating. Go write.