As a professional writer, I am all too familiar with writer’s block. However, having been faced with this obstacle on numerous occasions, I’ve also found a few nifty ways to overcome it, too. Here are my five top tips on getting over writer’s block.
1. Start writing.
Writer’s block is typically caused by feeling the need to churn out something perfect, first time. While that is the dream, sadly it rarely ever happens. Too many times I have written something one day thinking it worthy of scripture, only to wake up the next to discover that it’s clunkier than the creepers that I used to wear in Year 10. (You should have seen the first draft of this article, trust me.)
However, I was only able to spot these mistakes because I started writing in the first place. As long as the idea is there, you’ll find that once you’ve got it on the page, staring straight back at you, you’ll be able to start fleshing it out. Remember: writing is a marathon, not a sprint.
2. Take a walk.
Walking is good for so many reasons; it keeps you fit, it’s great for your mental health and it takes you away from the screen for a few minutes, giving you ample time to refresh yourself before diving back in. Your brain is like a computer – if you don’t refresh it every now and again, you’ll find it gradually gets slower and slower before breaking down completely. Walking closes down the tabs in your mind, shutting down your brain for a well-needed reboot.
Whenever I go out for a walk, I usually put on a heavy metal playlist and bop my way down the street, aiming to keep my stride in rhythm with the drums. The loud music and the focus on my movement completely takes my mind off of any paper that I’m writing, so that when I come back to the screen I’m able to look at my work from a new perspective.
To beat writer’s block, you don’t need to have a heavy metal playlist, or even any playlist at all. I know other writers that prefer to walk in complete silence, contemplating their writing so that upon their return to the desk they have a head full of ideas to work on. Either option is completely fine; it’s all about finding your groove and discovering what works for you.
3. Listen to classical music.
Having talked about my preference for heavy metal music in the point above, you might be wondering why, of all things, I’m recommending classical music to you right now. Let me explain.
· It reduces anxiety and stress. Stress, from either the fear not being able to meet a deadline or from the frustration of not being able to find the right words, is detrimental to any writing process, full stop. By listening to classical music, you’ll find that as you start to relax, the words will start to flow a little easier too.
· It helps you to concentrate. A French study found that students who listened to classical music in a lecture retained more information than students who attended a lecture in silence.
· It increases creativity. Strangely enough, studies found this specifically pertains to Mozart, but any excuse to stick on Rondo Alla Turca (or ‘The Playbook’ theme tune for any How I Met Your Mother fans out there) is good enough.
Bonus: you’ll master the classical music rounds on ‘University Challenge’.
4. Read a book
Go to your bookshelf and pick up the first book that you see. That book in your hand was written by someone who, undoubtedly, dealt with writer’s block at some point. The fact that you’re holding the finished product right now suggests that they overcome it – and so can you.
Now, open the book and start looking for inspiration. If your writer’s block is centred around writing an introduction, turn to the first page. If you’re struggling to start a new chapter, flick to the middle. If you don’t know how to conclude, turn to the end.
With each turn of the page, you’ll discover new ways that words are woven together, giving you endless examples of how you can compose your thoughts in a unique and exciting way. From there, you’ll find yourself mapping sentences around those that you’ve read before, taking inspiration from a small quip at the end of a paragraph, or the bold introduction of a new character. What you read influences not only what you write, but how you write.
5. Take care of yourself
Self-care is important at the best of times, although it can often be neglected if you’re faced with looming deadlines. As a rule of thumb, it’s always worth remembering that you cannot be making your best work if you are not at your best, so make sure that self-care is an area of yourself that you invest in.
Sleep – make sure you’re aiming to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. I know most writers laugh about staying up super late and functioning solely on coffee, but it’s a) really bad for your health and b) highly unlikely that you’ll write anything good. Do yourself a favour and go to bed.
Stay hydrated – a hydrated brain is a happy brain. By staying hydrated, not only will your skin be ✨glowing✨, but you’ll be less stressed and more focused (even if you are taking a few more bathroom breaks than usual). Aim to drink six to eight glasses of water a day and you’ll be a headache-free writing aficionado in no time.
Exercise – see tip one. Exercising is an instant mood booster, releasing a healthy dose of dopamine (the reward chemical) after each workout session. Go for a walk, lift some weights, or even just dance around in your underwear to your favourite playlist.
Do you have any tips on how to overcome writer’s block? Leave us a comment or get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.