It’s happened. You’re staring at a blinking cursor on your computer screen, but nothing comes to mind. The words just won’t flow. You’ve got writer’s block. And the question is, how do you break it?
Rest assured that you are not alone. Every writer has struggled with writer’s block at one time or another, even famous writers like Ernest Hemingway and J. K. Rowling. How do they get through it? Clearly, professional writers have some trick up their sleeves, right?
Actually, there is no magic bullet to get rid of writer’s block. Just like with other tasks, the human brain doesn’t always want to perform. If you exercise, think about your routine. Do you jump out of bed every morning to go to the gym, or do you sometimes struggle to make yourself go? At work, do you occasionally have tasks that you have to force yourself to complete? Writer’s block is the same phenomenon. The best writers out there will tell you to power through. But they do have a few tricks to help break the block.
So if you’re struggling with writer’s block, here are some tips:
What to do
Lower your standards—Not even Shakespeare was as good as Shakespeare all the time. You’re not going to write the next great novel every single time you sit down to your computer. So just start writing, and worry about the quality later. You can always go back and revise your work (or hire an editor). It’s better to have something to revise than nothing at all. And the truth is that you are your harshest critic. Just write, and don’t be afraid that you’re not producing your best work.
Exercise—Your brain is a muscle, and just like the rest of your muscles, it works better when you get your blood pumping. Go for a walk, go to an exercise class, or do whatever form of exercise you like best.
Change the setting—By changing location, you can stimulate your inner muse. Try adding music, or if you’re in a location with lots of noise, try finding someplace quiet. Try different rooms, or even try writing outside. Giving your brain a change of pace will help get those words flowing.
Write anyway—Perseverance is key. When professional writers get stuck, they write anyway. It’s their job, so they must. Try switching up what you’re writing about, or try pretending that you are writing your work only for a close friend to read. You can also freewrite or work in outline form until you find the words.
What not to do
Screen time—Whatever you do to break the block, avoid screen time. Social media and TV are white noise that will scatter your thoughts. You’ll be left just as stuck, but with lost time on your hands. Find other activities if you need a break from writing—ones that are more conducive to creative thought.
Make excuses—Most of all, don’t make excuses. If you wait for your muse, you’ll procrastinate and never complete your task. Buckle down and get to work, even if you’re stuck. While there may be no surefire way to find your muse, you too can overcome writer’s block. Good luck!