As anybody who puts word to paper for a living can tell you, the very real threat of writer’s block is enough to derail any project on the spot. For those struggling with this affliction, it takes a prodigious effort to construct a single sentence. But hope exists because there are some steps you can take to beat writer’s block. Here is a closer look at the condition and what you can do to overcome it.
What Is Writer’s Block?
Simply put, writer’s block is a psychological condition that prohibits an author from working on a particular piece. This affliction impacts writers of all types, including novelists, reporters, songwriters, and newspaper columnists. The creative block can be a temporary one or permanent, but remember to distinguish this from those with a lack of writing skill. There have been many prominent figures who have suffered bouts of writer’s block, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Schulz, and Adele. It’s also speculated that many other writers throughout time were also victims, including Moby Dick author Herman Melville.
Causes of Writer’s Block
There is an unlimited number of factors that can cause writer’s block. But all of them tend to fit within one of three separate categories. Here is a bit more on each of the three common base reasons why authors sometimes struggle to find their words.
Most times, a person is their own harshest critic, which is especially true for any piece that exposes an artist’s vulnerabilities. Writers put a bit of their soul into everything they write, so it’s only natural to want to protect yourself in any way possible. Sometimes, this manifests itself as writer’s block, unfortunately.
Fear of Comparison To Other Writers
Another of the common causes of writer’s block is the fear of how your work compares to others. The goal of living up to others' standards is often an impossible one to meet, but that doesn’t stop the quixotic attempt to achieve them. By comparing to others, it allows you to justify not moving forward until it’s perfect, which can never happen.
Lack of Motivation, Either Internal or External
Finally, it’s possible that there simply isn’t a motivation to continue the story. Maybe it’s an idea that wasn’t worth exploring. Or perhaps your reason for needing or wanting to write the piece simply doesn’t exist anymore. Whatever the reason, it isn’t easy to move forward with something that you don’t want to write.
Tips for Overcoming Writer's Block
While there are relatively few fundamental reasons for writer’s block, the same is not true for possible solutions to the problem. These are some of our favorite steps you can take to beat writer’s block.
Create a Routine
Oddly enough, a routine can be good for creativity. One big reason is it puts your body into a creative mode at the same time each day. It also allows you to perform some tasks on auto-pilot, with the focus going toward your writing piece instead.
Another exercise to help get over a creative drought is freewriting. Simply sit down with your favorite pen and some paper to write down everything that comes into your head for the next five to fifteen minutes. It doesn’t have to make sense or be logical for your story—just get it all down. It is essential to do this with paper and pen because it engages more of your brain, helping stimulate a solution to overcome your writer’s block. Later, after you’ve given your head the chance to clear, look back for practical ideas or possible solutions to your problem.
Skip the Problem
If you can’t come up with the solution to a problem you’ve written yourself into, skip it and come back. This tactic allows you to reach an outcome and work backward to get to where your problem started. While unconventional, it can open a writer’s eyes to some otherwise-hidden paths.
Develop Your Characters
Another path to consider when running dry on ideas is to develop all of your characters further. Even if the readers never know the details, give your characters histories and interests that make sense with the story you’ve told so far. Not only will this aid in working through your current jam, but it can also assist with future stalling.
Do Other Projects
Working on other projects is a great way to help alleviate writer’s block. It gives your brain the ability to move on and potentially return to the problem from a new perspective. Even if what you do isn’t writing-related, it still is an opportunity to rest and reset.
Think About Yourself
As a reader, what do you want to see the characters do at this moment in the story? That doesn’t mean to think about what your readers will want; consider what action you would like to see the character take. Thinking about the character as something other than your own can open up a doorway that may not have otherwise presented itself.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for assistance. Family, friends, and coworkers are all good options depending on the project. Even strangers on the internet can offer advice in some situations. Asking for aid puts a new set of eyes on the problem, plus vocalizing the problem may be enough to jog your brain into a solution.
Should You Stay or Should You Go
There are two schools of thought for getting over writer’s block: take a step back or rush headlong into it. On the one hand, sitting and forcing yourself to continue writing until you’ve gotten over the block allows you to focus all of your concentration on your writing. But stepping away lets you take a fresh look at it when your mind may be more open to other possibilities. Both methods can be effective depending upon the individual author’s writing preferences.
At EndlessPens, we understand the frustration that comes from a case of writer’s block. Our pen shop proudly carries a vast selection that features many of the finest ballpoint, rollerball, gel, and fountain pens available today. Check out our online store today to find your next favorite pen.
By Some Folks at EndlessPens