Do you believe that a writer is always sitting at his desk, overwhelmed by an unstoppable flow of inspiration, almost incapable of keeping up with the flow of ideas and words that flow from his imagination?
I’m sorry, but it’s not like that.
At least not always, or not for everyone.
Because the truth is that all writers have the writer’s block.
It happens when you least expect it, that you are writing a simple article for a blog or the greatest novel of your life: it just happens.
But why does it happen? And what are the tools to overcome the dreaded writer’s block?
Why does the writer’s block happen?
The writer’s block can happen at any time, but some circumstances may favor its appearance.
Give your first draft the chance to come to light. All of us writers would like sentences to be perfect from the beginning, so we continually self-correct as we write, suffocating words before they can reach the page. Is a mistake!
Write therefore freely, knowing that you will correct so much later. When it’s time to write, write! Correction and revision will be subsequent work phases.
Don’t immediately think about the judgment of the public. Most of the time we write for others, because someone reads us. It is right and it is normal, but this does not mean that you have to be conditioned by the fear of the judgment of the public since the first draft of your work. Before starting to write it is important to establish which is your target audience, but remember that the public will only read the finished product, while in front of your first draft there is only you.
So, even if your attempts seem clumsy and embarrassing, don’t stop at every sentence, don’t go back to fix it, but go ahead and write!
Don’t identify yourself with the block. If you happen to experience a writer’s block, don’t let it influence or determine the opinion you have of yourself. The block does not depend on you as a person, but on the project you are working on. So when you feel you have a block, remember that it depends on what you are writing, not on your abilities.
How to Identify the Writer’s Block
To overcome a writer’s block you must first understand what was generated.
Does the lack of ideas stop you from the beginning and you can’t even leave? Or do you have an idea, but you don’t know how to use it and how to start developing it? Or, again, you have already begun to write and have followed your idea without problems, but then suddenly, in the middle of the story, have you run aground?
Understanding what prevents you from going ahead is necessary to know in which direction to look for the solution.
How to Overcome the Writer’s Block
If the problem arises from the lack of ideas, then you need to understand how to generate new ideas. For example, you could search online and be inspired by the images you find. Follow the images in the random order in which they present themselves to you, carefully observe them, try to imagine their background or facts, reason about the concepts that the images convey and let your writer’s mind move.
If instead you had an idea but you don’t know how to start, or you started writing and got stuck in the middle, then you need to break that jammed mechanism. You can freely let go of ideas by brainstorming, you can write random sentences on different sheets and then mix them, you can make word combinations, you can write a seemingly bumpy stream of consciousness or, on the contrary, you can pigeonhole ideas into a flowchart.
Personally, I use patterns and ladders a lot, both because I have a rational approach to writing, and because as a ghostwriter I have to establish from the beginning with my client how his text will develop.
For this reason, when I feel I have run out of ideas, I try to prevent the writer’s block by consulting my schemes, reworking them, deepening them with new details or restructuring them.
However, this method may not be suitable for you: your task is first of all to find what works for you.
Just as we do not all write in the same way, each one of us exceeds our blocks in a different way.
7 Methods to Overcome Writer’s Block
There are innumerable methods to overcome the writer’s block.
Experiment and find those that may be suitable for you. Know that anything that moves your mind to new paths will work.
If you’re writing on the kitchen table, move to the desk, or sit on the sofa. Go out and sit at a bar table or go to the library. In short, the scene and the setting change. Different sounds and external distractions can stimulate your creativity.
Clear your mind by doing some creative writing exercises, word combinations, guided exercises, whatever may get your concentration out of the dead end into which it has slipped.
Write something else.
Do not stand still in front of a blank sheet: if that sheet does not inspire you, try to change the project, write something else, completely change gender or register, distract your inner “pen”. You will find that the block is not total, and most likely, writing another one, you will overcome it.
This method is the most suitable for me, both for my pragmatic character and because as a ghostwriter and as an editor I always have at least three or four projects at hand in the same period. But I do not recommend it to everyone: those who tend to distract themselves too much already could in fact interpret this method as an invitation to give up. Writing something else, on the other hand, does not mean closing everything to the first doubt and disseminating unfinished work in the house, but rather varying the writing to train the mind to be more elastic.
Take a break.
Take a break, but only with the promise that you will finish the job again. Don’t let a block ruin your whole project. Take a break, if necessary, but then start over and complete your task. We must always go back on the horse that has unseated us.
Do some exercise.
Nothing brightens ideas as much as a walk or a run. It’s like the method of changing the scene with the added benefits of endorphins released by the body during physical activity. I assure you that every writer’s block seems less terrible after a bit of exercise.
It is not certain that you should write your book in the order in which it will then be read. Then shuffle the cards and write the scene that inspires you the most. You can write chapters that are far apart, you can start with the medium or even the ending. In the editing phase you will put together the various pieces and give them cohesion and consistency.
A block is not an excuse to stop writing. Writing is a job and as such cannot be based on a sensation or a whim. So if you really want to write, write even when you don’t feel like it. Write despite the block. Sit down and write. You will show yourself (and your block) who is boss. Even if you write badly, you can always correct later. Writing is a continuous exercise of perseverance.
Every writer is different and there are different reasons why everyone gets stuck, but the writer’s block happens to everyone and it is useless to ignore the problem or delude oneself that you will never touch it.
What you need, instead, is to know right away that you will be able to go to a block and know which methods work best for you.
This will help you quickly overcome any blockages or, why not, even prevent them.
If you then feel that you can’t do it alone and want the help of an expert, I can help you with a Writing Coaching session. We will analyze the causes of your block together, stimulate your inspiration and give a new impetus to your writing.