Writer’s block. Or as I like to call literary congestion. It’s an ailment that plagues many of us who are writing. The first step to recovery, before you take any step at all, can involve taking a step back. Now, you may be thinking “but how will I get anything done?” You’ll just have to trust me on this. It’s a catch 22 that is worth the benefits. To prevent yourself from stepping too far back and losing your focus, it is important to engage in activities that have a positive and meaningful impact. Here are a few suggestions.
I like to classify this step back as more of a half step back. The reason being is that you’re still involved in written text. However, you’re more remote in your involvement. Instead of creating new text, you’re observing and absorbing existing text. Perhaps your current case of writer’s block stems from your preoccupations with perfection. You expect to flawlessly get it out on paper the first time. This ideal situation rarely happens. Most great pieces of writing have been deconstructed before going to print. Feel free to draw inspiration from what you’re reading and mimick writing styles that you appreciate. Within reason of course. I personally wouldn’t start incorporating Shakespeare’s iambic pantameter into my academic writing. But that’s just me. Anyway, once you feel comfortable to tackle your writing, go ahead and do so. You may be pleasantly surprised with yourself.
Write it Simply
Albert Einstein said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” This might be the case. If so, then you’ll need to do a bit more research on your topic. Or, it might be that you know too much about your topic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, it can be a deterrent toward clearly constructing your text. In either case, an exercise in writing your thoughts in more simple terms can be a very effective one. Write what you know in the most basic terms. Write what you know with free will. Don’t worry about making it perfect at the first try. You might even like the way that your words sound when you write them simply. You can always edit your work afterwards. Allow yourself the opportunity to develop the bare bones of your facts, ideas, and thoughts. When inspiration strikes, you can always add life to the skeleton you’ve developed.
Write, Don’t Type
Allow me to share my personal experiences with this tip. During my undergraduate and graduate studies, I did not have a laptop. I probably stood out in libraries and cafes as among the rare few without a laptop. But, this was my choice. I admit, there were times when I felt slightly awkward about this. A friend of mine explained the benefit of this practice beautifully. She said “it’s because you’re a writer, not typer.” And she was right. To this day, when I face writer’s block while I’m typing, I turn back the simple medium of paper. Although I love feeling like my fingers are tap dancing as I hear the fast clickity clack sounds, I know that this joy doesn’t always occur. The flow of words does not keep up with my desire to type really fast. So, I go back to the basics and enjoy the synergy that’s created between the mind and pen.
If your case of writer’s block is becoming a source of stress, and you continue to stew in that stress, then you are doing a disservice to your writing quality and your overall health. The stress might even be feeding that writer’s block. Exercise is a healthy way to channel that stress and put it in its place. The endorphins that are released from exercise allow your body and mind to relax. The journey toward this relaxed state of being is just as important as the destination. While on this journey, you may be surprised to notice your ideas develop throughout the process. Exercise also has the capacity to empower you to confront challenges from a more positive angle. With mindful exercise comes the ability to set goals. Reaching those goals results in a sense of accomplishment that can also be translated to your writing project. Overall, exercising your body will put you in a better position to exercise your writing muscle.
Catch up on household chores
When afflicted by writer’s block, writing can feel like a chore. You may not be fully cognizant of the fact that there are other important things circulating your mind, which in turn also cloud your ability to write clearly. It’s common for many writers to fall behind on their own personal responsibilities when they become engrossed in their writing assignment. However, it’s also common for that period of engrossment to be short lived. The expiry time is the perfect time to step away from your keyboard, or put down your pen, and take care of yourself a bit more. Simply decluttering your work space can make a positive difference in the nature of your work. There’s a reason why people say that a cluttered space is equal to a cluttered mind. Declutter your mind, clean your home and go back to your writing with a clean mind while being in a clean space.
Your right combination of words will come at the right time. In the meantime, give any one of these tips a try and find out what works best for you. Feel free to comment below, and let me know if you’ve tried these tips or if you have any other tips to share!