Ever sat utterly blank in front of your computer, not able to put down anything? This situation could go on for hours, days, weeks, months, maybe even years 😑. When writers find themselves in such a place, self-doubt creeps in, and they’ll probably leave writing for another day.
What is writer’s block?
Writer’s block is when a writer experiences creative slowdown or can't seem to create a new work. It is the inability of an author to compose a unique, original material and creativity is stunted.
What could be the cause?
It might come in many ways for different writers, such as the inability to focus, feeling mentally down, lack of inspiration, feeling stressed and frustrated, and the list goes on. There are several causes of writer’s block, but I’ll sum it up into a few, especially those I relate to.
BurnoutWhether you recognise them or not, your life experiences and pressures can affect your feelings towards writing. Sometimes significant life changes can disrupt a writer, making it difficult to sit down and write about anything at all. You wake up and don’t feel like writing, this can be so frustrating.
It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. I have felt this way in the past couple of months. I had to deal with certain situations and made some difficult choices. In the midst of all this, someone told me:
Just as you’re intentional about learning, be selfish (in a positive way) about your growth and unapologetic about it.
DistractionsA distraction is anything that turns your attention away from something you want to concentrate on. Responsibilities at work, home, school and other life aspects can pose a distraction from your writing goals. We can’t ultimately avoid these distractions, but it is possible to manage them.
Ask for help with activities at work, home or where ever you can. It is also essential to know when you have to prioritise and let go of certain things. Yes, multitasking is a great skill, but there’s only so much you can do at a time.
Fear and self-criticismWriters may struggle with fear, the fear of putting themselves and their ideas out there or maybe the fear of others judging them, rejecting or criticising their work. While this is entirely normal, especially for new writers, it becomes a problem once it prevents you from creating a new piece. Writers also deal with self-criticism and this could be consciously or unconsciously. You may find yourself comparing your work with that of other successful writers up to the point that nothing you write ever seems good enough.
Some other causes may include:
- Aiming for perfection or setting extreme standards: This could surface when you care more about the reactions (likes and comments) on your work that the fact that you’re putting out a helpful piece.
When you write, strive for progress, not perfection.
- Imposter Syndrome
- Lack of structure, not knowing how to start
- Lack of motivation
- Running out of ideas etc.
The list goes on, and here’s the funny thing, sometimes, it only exists in your head. In the so-called “writers’ block”, that wall you’re building is made of air, not bricks. Sometimes we only need an excuse for a getaway. You’re only blocked when you think you’re blocked.
Breaking away from the block
Five simple tips to get rid of writer's block.
- As they say, ‘It all starts from the mind'. Choose not to believe in writer’s block, there’s always something you can write.
- Find your touch or motivation: That thing you listen to (podcast, music, inspirational speaker), that book you read or someone you talk to when you feel you can’t write anything.
- Sleep on it: Sometimes, all you need is a nice meal accompanied by a sound sleep. For me, my creative process is all about a good sleep.
- Try out some other activity; do some exercise, cook a meal, go for long walks, anything to physically get your brain loosened up once again.
- The greatest trick is to write yourself out of it. Try freewriting, where you write down all your thoughts, anything that comes to mind without stopping and without regard for spelling, grammar, or any of the usual writing rules.
Writer’s block is challenging, but it’s possible to overcome. The first step is to identify the cause and then seek the appropriate solution.
Above all, don’t beat yourself up. Be kind. Give yourself a break, and have faith. It will all come back in good time, with some effort, of course. 😉