You’ve zeroed in on your topic idea, got your cup of tea (or coffee) ready and are sat at your desk waiting to pour your incredible article onto the page when… nothing.
Your brain’s turned to mush and that great article idea has vanished.
Your trail of thought breaks leaving you staring at a blank document with not the slightest clue what to do or where to begin. The dreaded rise of writer’s block has left you useless.
It’s a situation we’ll all find ourselves in at one point or another, for me it was the whole of yesterday morning. It is the single most detrimental effect on a writer’s productivity. A writer who can’t write isn’t a writer, you’re as useful as a footballer who can’t kick or an accountant who can’t count.
Thankfully writer’s block is temporary. The real question is how to smash through the barrier and get yourself back onto producing some awesome content.
The Cause of Blocks
There’s a wide variety of reasons you’re experiencing a block. Generally speaking they can be broken down in to one of the following categories.
Distraction – Whether through external distractions or your own ill-fated attempts at multitasking, if you’re not focused on the task at hand it’s difficult to get into your zone and make any meaningful progression.
Overthinking – You want your piece to shine and you’ll spend however long it takes to make it perfect, but perfection is unattainable. If you’re overthinking on how to make your piece perfect you’ll spend an eternity thinking and no time actually doing.
Creative Beliefs – Creativity can be a difficult attribute to understand, especially with the inherent belief that creativity is solely the domain of the artist. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re not the creative type. If you’re thinking too much on whether you are or aren’t creative you’re going to miss the opportunity to actually be creative.
You can’t find inspiration if you’re convinced you’re not the creative type or spend too much time thinking about creativity. Think less, do more.
Destroying Writer’s Block
Most advice on writer’s block advises us to get away from what’s causing us our anguish. To take a long walk and think about how we can overcome the problem when we’re back at our desks. This is, in my opinion, poor advice.
Sure, getting away from your desk for an hour can help to work through some issues but it’s not a quick solution to the problem. Not by a long shot.
I’ve had some serious writer’s block before, followed the advice and gone out for a while to come back and find out that I’m stuck in exactly the same place I was before. Leaving your problems to work themselves out is an extremely slow solution to a problem that you need to break immediately.
Think of writer’s block as side stitch.
When I was a kid I played a lot of football. If we got stitch whilst playing we weren’t told to sit down and wait for it to pass, no, we were told to run through it. To confront the problem, defiantly flip it the bird and continue running about the pitch as if there was nothing wrong.
Sure you’re in pain for a few minutes and you’re pretty much useless to the team, but after those few minutes have passed the stitch has gone and you’re back running around the pitch without the slightest memory of that niggling pain in your side.
In my eyes, writing is exactly the same. Instead of leaving your desk and letting the problem slowly resolve itself, punch writer’s block square in it’s face.
Sit down, stop thinking and start writing.
It doesn’t matter what you write at this point, the goal you’re aiming for is to loosen the block and get back on to the path to productiveness. If you’re writing absolute drivel don’t worry, that’s what editing is for!
Sometimes the simple solutions are the most effective. The next time you’re suffering from writer’s block here’s what I want you to do.
1 – Cut off all distractions (I use noise cancelling headphones)
2 – Stop overthinking and over researching your article
3 – Sit down and write 500 words. It doesn’t have to be good, t doesn’t even have to make much sense. Write the first words that come to your mind on the topic and before you know it the words will be flowing and you’ll have been far more productive than if you’d gone for that inspiration inducing walk.
Do you subscribe to the wait and see method of breaking through writer’s block? Or do you prefer to show writer’s block who’s boss by refusing to let it demotivate and slow you down?
Image – alexkerhead