Apparently, when asked to name the scariest thing he encountered in his life, writer Ernest Hemingway didn’t speak about the times he fought bulls in Spain, or hunted in Africa, or fought as a war correspondent. His answer- “A blank sheet of paper.”
Writer’s block is a real thing. It can happen while trying to write a story, a technical article, or even a Tweet! If you haven’t experienced it before, you deserve a standing ovation. Or maybe you are all too familiar with this self-diagnosed disease and are in a position where you are tasked with pushing out content regularly, but never dubbed yourself a writer. Either way, writer’s block is real and we need to learn how to overcome it. Here are a few good practices to adopt into your lifestyle that will help you avoid those “banging your head into your computer” moments…
1.) Keep Reading
Getting into a habit of regularly reading will directly affect your ability to write. Reading, the cornerstone of education, is the process of acquiring and integrating new knowledge. Writing is the process of creating new thoughts from that knowledge and experience. They go hand in hand!
“Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King
2.) Keep Writing
Don’t just stare at the page. Start rambling, start jotting ideas, start at a different part in the content. Don’t be stagnant. Having willpower to move forward works, but if it doesn’t- set habits for yourself. Set a day, time, and environment where you will FORCE yourself to write. You’d be surprised how your mind and body reacts to being forced to do something over and over…it gets good at it!
“Everyday between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. writer Stephen King arrives at his desk with a cup of tea. He turns on some music, takes his daily vitamin, and begins to work — exactly as he began the day before. Using this routine, King has produced well over 50 books, averaging 1-2 novels a year since 1974 when he published Carrie. Clearly, daily routines can be incredibly valuable.”
Ever had an idea in the car? Or the shower? Or how about right before you go to bed? In all of these situations, you are relaxed and allow your mind to wonder away from stresses and anxieties. Daydreaming shifts your mind into an altered state of consciousness with no boundaries. When your “stress or anxiety” is writing, having this freedom allows you to think outside of the realms of the subject you are focusing on.
New state of mind=New ideas= New content.
4.) Take a Break
It’s okay to admit that the well is dry. Don’t drive yourself mad. Take breaks throughout the day, even if you have to force yourself to. Some employers actually shut off employees’ computers throughout the day, forcing them to walk around for 5 minutes.
“Sometimes the best thing a writer can do is not write. There are going to be times when our brains are fried, our imaginations are dried up, and our lives are demanding we put non-writing priorities first. In these situations, is it ever acceptable to just surrender and throw down the pen for a while? My answer is absolutely. In fact, sometimes it’s wise to deliberately plan to stop writing.”
Every writer is a creative. It doesn’t matter how technical your field is. If you’re putting words on a page, then you are creating something. You want your creation to be something you are proud of and are willing to share with your network or company. Everyone is different and some of these tips might speak to you, but whoever you are, no matter what, take the time to figure out how YOU do the best breaking down of writer’s block.