We’ve all found ourselves spiraling down the pit of procrastination when what we really should be doing is writing. A writer’s block can occur from a variety of reasons like burnout, wrong timing, fear (of critique, maybe), perfectionism, etc. No matter what it is, it leaves a mark on your confidence and productivity. The most difficult part? Writing is an art, not a science, and if your creativity doesn’t comply with you, you can’t really shut off your mind and go further, right? This is what makes writer’s block so hard but important to battle. Here are some techniques that might help, though.
Have a pressing writing commitment
Even for an activity as creative and free-flowing as writing, you sometimes have to force your brain to get words out. If you find that you’re not able to dedicate yourself or feel accountable enough towards your passion, try engaging in something that compels you to write, even if you don’t feel like it. Start content-writing for a magazine, or try writing columns for a newspaper- you’ll have to turn in work on deadlines. Whatever it is, exercise the writing muscles of your brain; the more you use them, the stronger they become. Being a regular writer, no matter the content, will keep you sharp and the writer’s block at bay.
Freewriting could help more than you think
This one is almost like Freud’s ‘free association’ technique for psychoanalysis, except you don’t need the therapist or the couch; just yourself and some pen and paper. Dedicate a small amount of time a day writing whatever is on your mind. We mean it! Don’t even think about making articulate sentences or punctuating. Let the page be filled with random words and a mess of genres, and it’s even better if it’s irrelevant to your current project. Alternatively, you can choose a vague prompt and go off on it; the same rules apply. The rationale behind this popular technique is to clear your mind of extreme self-consciousness and doubt and to tap into the stock of creativity inside your head that may have gotten pushed back.
Let your sleepy mind do the work
You might be thinking, Huh, if I’m unable to write when I’m wide awake, how can I possibly write when I’m sleepy? It’s a valid question. The thing is, your subconscious mind is a proactive little problem-solver. So if you go to sleep with questions in your head, you might wake up with answers to them. Try writing for a few minutes just before bedtime; this will set the plot of the story in your mind when you go to sleep. The next morning you might be surprised to find the solution to the block or problem that was hindering you from writing, and voila! You’re back in action!
You don’t have to be perfect every time
Yes, this felt like a personal attack even to me. It seems that the main reason I end up stalling on writing is because of the fear of turning out sub-par material, even when I know that I’m not a bad writer. This ‘perfectionism’ that turns into ‘procrastination’ can only be battled by non-judgmentally allowing yourself to write a first draft that is imperfect and flawed. Sure, you’d have to go back to it and put time into editing it, but it’s better than idly wallowing in self-pity about not being able to write, right? The first step to defeating writer’s block is to write, write anything at all, and get some words on those pages.
Do some mindless activity
Again, some pretty strange-sounding advice, but you might remember Archimedes’ Eureka! a moment in the bathtub. Psychology has found solid proof that doing stuff or being in places where your brain goes into autopilot and doesn’t have any pressure can allow unexpected creative thoughts to come to you. Things like taking a shower or bath, going for a walk or a refreshing drive, or just riding a bus – when you take your mind off your project and change your context and activities, different areas of the brain that could help more with your problem get activated. Or you might just find something distantly relevant to your goal in a completely irrelevant context. Your unconscious just needs to wander by itself to make creative connections and daydream, until you suddenly arrive at your ‘EUREKA!’ moment. And admit it, we’ve all had some phenomenal ideas and discoveries when in the shower.
What is your go-to technique when you encounter writer’s block? Tell us below!.
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