by Hannah Zello
It’s an eerie phrase that anyone attempting to write a book, article, or other piece of writing shudders at internally. We’ve all heard about authors or friends getting writer’s block before—that mysterious inability to move forward with a project. Whether it’s a lack of inspiration, direction, or just drive, chances are that you’ll experience this mental phenomenon at some point.
So how do we prepare for writer’s block and combat it effectively? Here are a few thoughts.
Does this seem counterintuitive? Sure. The goal is to get words on the page, after all, right?
Yes. But the truth is that sometimes, the best way to spur productivity is to spend some time not being productive. If you’ve been sitting at the keyboard for any extended period of time and words and ideas refuse to come, get up. Take a break. Go for a walk outside. Take a nap. Watch a TV show. Do something unrelated to your writing.
Why does this work? Our brain needs periods of rest in order to function best. In fact, sleep sometimes grants us the best solutions to ideas, the best inspiration, and the fullest realization of our capacities. So a mental break—and/or a physical one—will do more to improve your writing than forcing yourself to stay seated in front of that blank page.
What do you enjoy doing? Give yourself a breather. When you come back to your work, you’ll be fresh and better equipped to pour everything into it.
In contrast to doing unrelated activities, sometimes the push we need comes from outside voices who are in the field or subject matter about which we’re writing.
What gaps need to be filled in when it comes to your knowledge of the subject matter?
What materials can you take in—whether reading, watching, or listening?
Does your outline or writing plan need some beefing up? How can you flesh out your outline to make it even easier on yourself when it comes to each chapter or segment of your project?
What friends can you approach for background information or to verify that your writing is accurate to the subject matter?
If you don’t feel able to write, work so that your writing will be easier the next time you do it.
Maybe you don’t have an outline at all! This is the perfect place to start. Make a game plan that empowers you to know exactly what’s next. Create next steps, and make preparations in your work and personal life so that you can stick to them.
How do you best create? Make a plan for when, where, and how you’ll write.
Do you write best to music?
In a coffee shop?
When you know the answers to questions like these, you’ll be able to optimize your environment for a productive writing session—and eliminate some of the mental work on the front end!
Make a manageable goal for yourself every day, and create routines that are immovable. The best strategy to combat writer’s block is consistency—we’re creatures of habit, and our brains thrive in an environment where we condition them to do a certain thing time after time, day after day. Use that to your advantage!
You know how you function best, so fill up your tank, spend some time mapping a course, and when all else fails, get words on the page. They don’t have to be perfect. They don’t even have to be in the right order. They just have to be words to start with—just one after the other.
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