Get unstuck and start writing again.
I’m about halfway through a self-imposed challenge to write an article a day for the month of August. Although I am a writer by trade, and therefore write every day, crafting content for one’s employer is not the same as using one’s writing talent in service of self. For me, it’s almost like writing my own stuff draws upon a different part of my brain—one that I have not used consistently in a while. So this challenge is meant to get me back into the swing of things, and reinstate the habit that I used to have of writing something new every single day.
Of course, it is not every day that one feels inspired, or honestly even able to express oneself creatively via the written word. Sometimes writer’s block hits, and hits hard. But as a professional, you have to work your way around writer’s block—or through it—and get those creative juices flowing again. If writer’s block has ever been an issue for you, here are some tips to get you back on track:
- Take a break. Do something mindless and completely unrelated to writing. I get some of my best ideas and breakthroughs when showering, walking, or doing chores.
- Seek inspiration. Visit a beautiful building/location. Maybe a museum, or your favorite park. Listen to music, you love. Play with puppies…anything that sparks joy in your heart.
- Read. It can be highbrow or trashy, poetry or prose, but read something.
- Rest. This is different than simply taking a break. This is unplugging completely and, if possible, taking a nap. Many writers get inspired by their dreams, or find answers to their writing problems immediately upon waking.
- Exercise. Conversely, some writers find that getting the endorphins flowing helps them break through writer’s block. 30-60 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise can make all the difference.
- Hydrate. Caffeine works best. Being buzzed can help generate creativity.
- Write. Or more specifically, freewrite. Cliché though the suggestion might be, it’s a cliché for a reason. Ultimately, it’s the only solution to the problem. Unless there are words on your screen, or on your page, there is nothing for you to edit, critique, love, revise, hone, or reframe. So write. Write something. Write anything. All the stuff you wanted to say, but felt you couldn’t because your friends, spouse, boss, teacher, editor, parents, whoever, would disapprove. Journal it out. It really doesn’t matter what you write at this stage, because this is for your eyes only. The aim is to get something–anything–on the page.
- Silence your critic. When doing the above exercise, or writing a first draft, you will shut yourself down if you aim for publishable content from the beginning. Perfectionism will block you faster than anything else. So stop self-critiquing and self-editing, and for now, just write. There will be time to edit and refine later.
- Play. Make it a game. Think of yourself as a 3-year-old batting at a piñata. Keep at it, and eventually the good stuff will come out.