What Causes Writer’s Block?
Everyone experiences writer’s block at one time or another. It is not something to worry about or stress yourself about. Writer’s block is actually quite easy to handle. The simplest solution is to take a little time to go do something that you enjoy, something that makes you feel happy. One of the easiest things to do is to simply recall positive experiences in your life. Half an hour of doing this will leave you in a much better mood and you will probably be able to get back to writing without a problem.
There are a few physical reasons you may be struggling to write. These include not getting enough deep sleep, eating a poor diet, not exercising, sitting still for too with your attention fixed, and actual illness or injury resulting in pain or discomfort. These are not so many causes of writer’s block as they are circumstances that negatively affect your ability to write.
This may be a hard pill to swallow but really there is only one real cause of writer’s block and that cause is you. Naturally, you will try to justify why you feel you can’t write and so you may come up with excuses that seem to you to be causes of your writer’s block but they are not. You must understand that all of the below are just excuses and justifications, negative thoughts, and chronic poor emotional states.
I don’t mean for this to sound harsh but sometimes you have to be brutally honest with yourself and others. Every excuse below is one I have used before. Every question including many I have not written here, I have asked my self. Every emotional state from anger to depression, to fear I have experienced at one time or another. In fact, I am writing this article as much for myself as I am writing it for you.
- Fear of Failure – This may manifest in thoughts or words like, “I am not a very good writer”, “no one reads my stuff”, “people don’t like my articles”. Failure is part of life and EVERYONE FAILS. Failure is our greatest teacher and it is necessary.
- Fear of Success – Yes, some people are scared of success. Why because they are afraid of what others might think and say. Imagine you hit the big time, what will your friends and family say or think? The people who matter will be happy for you and anyone who is not really your friend is not worth hanging around. People’s opinions of you are their own, what matters is what you think of yourself.
- Laziness – This is a poor excuse but we all suffer from it from time to time. It is important that you recognize your laziness and then tell yourself to knock it off and get on with things like writing your next blog article.
- Allowing Distractions – This excuse is often just laziness. Maybe you feel like watching another YouTube video or the latest Netflix series but realize that while there is nothing wrong with spending some time doing these things, spending too much time is not okay and will negatively affect your productivity. There are times when you may be faced with genuine distractions, I have two small kids who at times interrupt me incessantly. If this is the case you need to look at the situation and figure out some strategies for handling these distractions.
- Lack of a Writing Strategy – Good writers generally have a writing strategy in place to help them be more productive. Personally, I find breaking down my blog articles into different headings and sections works really well. Take some time to explore and try different blog writing strategies until you find one that works for you.
- Trying to be a Perfectionist – There is no such thing as perfect so stop trying to write the perfect blog post, it is a waste of time. This is not to say that quality doesn’t matter because it sure does. But once you have written something that communicates your points clearly to your intended audience there really is no need to try work it any better. Articles can also contain better info or more info and you can come back and add things and do some editing over time but there really is no need to try perfect every blog post.
- Procrastination – If you are continually putting off writing blog articles then you must honestly ask yourself if you really want to be a blogger. Being lazy and having genuine distractions is one thing but if it happens continually you need to either find out what you are doing wrong that is making you avoid writing or you need to be honest and admit that you actually don’t like blogging and you feel it is a horrible chore.
How Long Does Writer’s Block Last?
Your writer’s block is going to last as long as you decide to allow it to last. You can keep making excuses and finding reasons not to or you can push yourself to get on with things.
How long your writer’s block lasts is different from writer to writer and blogger to blogger. It will last as long as you let it or fail to take action to overcome your writer’s block.
If you find you are unable to write for long stretches of time, weeks, or months then you need to honestly ask yourself if you actually want to write. If you do want to write then you need to get yourself into a better frame of mind fast. To do this keep reading.
How Do You Overcome Writer’s Block?
At the beginning of this article, I said that the best solution is to do something that makes you feel happy. Now, this is good advice but it can also become an excuse if it means watching movies or doing everything else except writing.
That is why recalling positive past experiences is such a good technique. It doesn’t get you distracted with another activity but rather allows you to remember wins in your life. There is nothing like winning to make you feel good. Just recall the last big blog article you wrote. Didn’t you feel a sense of achievement when you saw that massive word count?
Realize that you are in control of your writing and it is a willingness or unwillingness on your part. Writers write, so go write something, anything, even if it is how you feel about your writer’s block. Write down all your excuses and then re-write them as a positive affirmation. Believe me, if you just start writing and you keep at it you will have overcome writer’s block.
A List of Creative Solutions to Writer’s Block
If you are still struggling with your writer’s block then here is the ultimate list of creative solutions for overcoming writer’s block.
- Recall past experiences and wins in life that made you happy. This is the most powerful tool, at least for me. I can’t help but smile and feel good when doing this and it puts me in a much better frame of mind and emotional state. Your emotional state determines what you are able to do. If you feel angry or miserable often then you are not going to be productive. Anything that makes you feel better emotionally can help you be more productive and being productive in itself will make you feel better and more positive and help you to write.
- Go for a long walk and look around at your environment. If you start to feel tired just keep walking and looking, believe me, the tiredness will wear off if you just keep walking.
- Read a book, especially something that gives your imagination some exercise. Fantasy, sci-fi, comedy, action, suspense, mystery, the list of imaginative book genres goes on. Just don’t read for too long or you won’t be doing any writing yourself.
- Write down your negative thoughts or feelings. Change your negative thoughts or feelings into positive affirmations and write them down.
- Write down a list of problems you have your attention on. Then write down just one way you could handle each problem you have. You will find your problems will start to become a bit more manageable or may even cease to be problems now that you have a solution even if it is a partial solution. Then you can get back to writing.
- Don’t buy into weird solutions or ideas like having to wear a certain sweater or only write at a certain time of day, or having to have a special place to write or the perfect cup of hot chocolate. These are just more excuses. If you really want to write then you must learn to write anywhere anytime. PS: I am still working on this one. It is not easy but if you keep at it it will get easier.
- Go do some of your chores or housework that you have been avoiding. Fold your washing, do some dishes, anything that makes your home or workspace neater and more organized. A disordered environment can be very distracting so either learn to work with the disorder or put in some order.
- Get some exercise. This is similar to taking a walk. If you have weights use them. Otherwise do some push-ups, some planking or situps, or anything that gets you moving and in touch with your surroundings.
- Spend some time touching your laptop or computer. This is a very interesting technique. Simple touch the tools you use to write then stop touching them and then touch them again. Keep doing this until you feel better about the tools you use to write with. This can prove to be a very effective solution to overcoming writer’s block.
- Take some time to read your past blog posts. If you can see anything you can improve then do some editing and rewriting. This will get you writing again which is the key to overcoming writer’s block.
- Try some free writing. Just grab a pen and paper or use your computer if you prefer to type. Just write down whatever comes to mind. It can be how you feel, it can be silly, creative, angry whatever, it doesn’t matter. Just write.
- Make a list of blog topics you’ve been wanting to write. You should be doing this anyway in a spreadsheet or blogger’s notebook but if you have not been doing this then now is a good time to start. Sometimes finding things to write about can start out slow but it will gain momentum. View past comments on your blog posts, maybe someone asked a question you can answer in a blog post.
- If you already have a list of blog posts you’ve been noting down over time then go review it. Pick any topic or title you have an start doing some research. Find out everything you can about the topic and just write down any and all points that seem to come up. Then write a sentence or two for each point and realize you are writing again.
- Create a wiring game with rewards and penalties. Games are fun so why not set overcoming writer’s block as the obstacle you need to overcome. Set yourself a reward like ordering a nice hot pizza if you can write 1500 words in the next 2 hours. Also, remember to set a penalty, something not all that pleasant like cleaning the toilet or scrubbing the kitchen floor. Be creative, don’t make the rewards or the penalties too over the top, keep things fun. Remember people are always motivated more by the attainment of pleasure rather than the avoidance of pain or uncomfortable situations.
- Give yourself a bigger challenge. If you are having a hard time writing for one blog then maybe its time to push yourself a bit harder and start a second blog. You can pick a completely different niche or you could create a blog in a niche that complements your current niche.
- When all else fails, start writing a blog post about overcoming writer’s block. Go read up on it and write down all the ideas you feel are good ideas for overcoming writer’s block. Add your own thoughts and ideas and realize you have just overcome your own writer’s block.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels