Writer’s block is a term you’ve probably heard pretty often. But the confusing thing about it is that people apply the term to describe dramatically different experiences. Some say that a writer’s block means a temporary frustrating period that causes them to stall the process of writing. For others, this phrase can mean a harrowing experience lasting a long period of time which hinders their ability to move ideas from their mind to the page. So, let's see what really goes on during a writer’s block.
Writer’s block, as the name suggests, is a condition that is primarily associated with writing in which the author doesn’t have or loses his ability to produce new work or faces a creative block which slows down the creative process. The condition usually ranges from difficulty in coming up with original content or being unable to produce work for years on end. It’s been seen as a problem throughout documented history as a hindrance to the creative process. Many big names in the industry have faced the problem of creative block including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Mitchell and even singer-songwriter Adele. So if you’re facing a writers block, know that you’re not alone and hopefully you’ll find your inspiration and motivation soon enough.
Obviously, there could be a vast number of problems that could cause a writer’s block including a tragedy at home, trauma or even just a lack of inspiration. But here are some of the five major reasons that cause a writer’s block, because knowing them may help you overcome them too.
This one is basically for all you people who think that one word in the sentence doesn’t fit right so the book cannot be written. In spite of knowing better, it’s hard not to edit while writing because often the first draft isn’t up to the mark of quality that is needed. It is said that once you press the delete key, one loses the rhythm and the rhythm in writing is key.
Writing is your life on a sheet. It’s the story you want to tell, the characters you want to describe and the plot you want to weave. If somewhere along the way that connection is lost, it becomes almost impossible to force it. It will feel inauthentic and not genuine.
Pressure may be self-inflicted or put on you from past successes, both of which can cause a hindrance to your writing. Sometimes we get pressures of unrealistic deadlines from clients and editors, which add to the pressure and other times you’re constantly comparing yourself in terms of work that you’ve produced before.
The fear of rejection comes in every writer’s life and the key is to move past it. You’re scared you’re not good enough and your work isn’t meaningful enough, but the important part is fighting past it. ‘What if no one likes it?’ ‘What if people think it’s useless information?’ are all thoughts that cross our mind. Deconstruct the fear and rationalise it- even Shakespear wasn’t loved by everyone.
Sometimes you’re completely in the flow of writing- you’re not sleeping, you’re hardly eating, house work is piling up and the outside world is shut out. It may give you a terrible backache but you don’t stop until you do. That’s when you’ve worn your body out to a point of your mind not working. Instead, make writing a daily habit along with a long walks, social interactions, and other hobbies you may have.
Now that you know what could possibly be causing your writer’s block, and wondering how to overcome writer's block here are some tips and tricks that will help you get over it.
Being around nature and going for a walk to clear your head can prove to be very helpful. It just makes you cut out the noise and concentrate on what is important. In fact, it may even give you a fresh perspective on your work.
Play some instrumental music, sit diligently to get some writing done just focus on that. If it means not going for evening plans one day, so be it. Be strict with yourself and you’ll get somewhere.
Maybe the environment isn’t conducive for you to write, so it may do you good to step out and get a change of scenery. If your room makes you feel sleepy and lazy, pack your bags and sit at a coffee shop or library to get some work done.
A lot of famous writers have daily routines and rituals to make writing a routine. Even the flow of things for you is having coffee, showering, doing research, and then writing- it still is a ritual. After a point, you’ll get so used to it that the writing will flow.
When you’re clear-headed and are in a happy zone, you will want to meet deadlines. Meeting someone who makes you feel good and motivated will fill you with vigour and determination to get work done.
Even if you’re in the middle of your debut novel, sometimes you’re just not in the right frame of mind to write. That’s when you write for yourself. Pick up a diary and scribble your thoughts and use it like a cathartic technique. This may help you write through the block.
Sometimes it’s easier to jot down ideas in bullet points and write them down to get a flow of how the story is going to pan out. You can even make mind maps and diagrams if it’ll help you work through a writer’s block.
In short stories and suspense novels, the plot twist becomes important to keep the reader engaged. Sometimes it becomes easier to write down the end or at least have a clear picture of what happens and then work backwards. That gives you a direction to follow.
Writing is hard work like any other art or sport, and practice makes you perfect at it. Maya Angelou, the author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, was of the belief that even when you’re suffering from writer's block, you should force yourself to put pen to paper every day whether you like the final product or not. She said, “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.”
The famous author Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” If you write an outline for what you think will happen through the course of the article or novel, it may help you fill in the gaps and join the dots.
Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway explained, “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.” When you’re suddenly flooded with ideas, hold on to them and don’t exhaust your resources.
So put your thinking glasses on and get writing.
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