The struggle is real.
Anyone who has ever written anything wordy – like an essay, dissertation or book – will know the frustration of writer’s block. It’s something that we will all face during our writing career, no matter how brief it may be!
In the last year that I’ve been writing full-time, I’ve faced this debilitating demon on many occasions. Like most people I respond with procrastination, ie, checking Instagram and chatting away on WhatsApp; but this only leads to even more frustration that I’ve whittled away precious time without getting any closer to my word count goal…
So, how do we overcome it?
✎ Start with a strong morning routine
Y’all know I love my mornings. But there’s a reason that I get up at 5am every day, and it’s because I have a solid morning ritual which I know for a fact makes me more productive. My highlights include: meditation, writing a gratitude list, journalling, exercise, and planning the day ahead.
Obviously you don’t need to get up that early if you don’t want to, but starting your day with intention and prioritising your mindset will set a strong tone for the day ahead – before everyone else tries to set the tone for you. Taking control of your day from the very beginning creates a pattern of being proactive rather than reactive, and ensures that you’re starting off on the right foot before your pen touches paper.
✎ Eat consciously
Often the most obvious ones are the easiest to miss – but there’s a reason why they’ve made a name for themselves. Sugar highs and caffeine crashes can plunge us into an energy sinkhole if we aren’t careful with what we put into our mouth on writing days.
Personally, I try and save “treat” foods for the weekends because I know that if I have a bag of sweets (my fave!) during the week then I’m writing off the rest of the day in a creative sense. It’s very hard to bounce back from a sugar crash, and it’s easier to avoid one altogether.
Find a workday diet which works for you and fuel a productive mind with foods which will release energy slowly throughout the day.
✎ Give yourself less time
If we have the luxury of extra time then we’ll use it to daydream and find other things that we’d rather be doing.
Yet, when there’s something that we have to get done by a certain time then we can magically squeeze it into whatever time pocket is available. This is Parkinson’s Law.
We will always utilise the full time that we have available for a task, so even if you didn’t have much time or much to write, then you would probably still manage to finish the job and meet your deadline.
Having too much time can indulge the writers block. Whereas having less time forces you to overcome it; and if you don’t like what comes out of you the first time, then you can always reword it later – but at least you’ll have something on the page!
✎ Set a daily word count (a realistic one)
As with everything in life, if you don’t know where you’re going then it’s very difficult to get there…
In the same vein as the tip above, if you have a tight deadline then there’s less room for writers block because you literally have to get something written in order to finish the work on time. Writers block can just mean thinking that we haven’t got anything “good enough” to write down, but actually if we were forced then we could string a few sentences together.
Setting a daily word count ensures that you have to continue writing in order to meet your target, and with only a certain number of hours to do it in – you won’t have the chance to succumb to writers block.
The best way is to write down what you can come up with in that moment, and then iterate, iterate, iterate later through your edits. By then, you might have the inspiration flowing to swap it for a better sounding sentence instead.
✎ Change your scenery
A change of scenery can move enough energy to shift your writer’s block.
We will all get bored if we’re in the same spot for too long, so writer’s block can be a symptom of too much time spent in one place. When I’m feeling fed up or stifled, I will move into another room or even snuggle up in bed with my laptop if I’m feeling cold, ill or sleepy. If you are creative too, then it’s likely that your surroundings affect you so make sure that you’re somewhere which makes you feel open and inspired.
Going out to a coffee shop or library is my favourite way to break up a day, especially if I get sick of seeing housework to-do’s out of the corner of my eye. Co-working spaces are great too and have the added bonus of meeting likeminded freelancers and entrepreneurs. Change your scenery to change your flow.
✎ Leave your phone in another room
This tip is the golden egg…
I don’t know about you, but my phone is my biggest distraction. By far!
The only way that I can be sure not to reach for IG or FB when my writing flow pauses for a hot-second is to keep it in a different room. Preferably on a different floor. It’s the only way to stay distraction free!
Laptops connected to the internet come with their own distractions too, of course, but there are so many useful tools available now. You can limit what you see on social media to add your own content without getting tempted into clickbait news articles. Some of my favourites are the “Remove recommended YouTube videos” Chrome extension and the “Kill News Feed” Chrome extension for Facebook.
Hopefully by implementing some of these tips you can feel distraction free, creatively inspired and full of beans in an environment that you love.
Writer’s block can be hard, but we all have our own important message for the world – and if your purpose is greater than your predicament then you’ll always find the tools that you need within. When you’re feeling blocked, just try to get something down and then come back to it later to edit and re-edit if you need to.
There really is no limit! Other than the ones that we put on ourselves.
These are the tips that I use every day to overcome my writer’s block. Do you have any of your own which haven’t been mentioned?
If so, then let me know in the comments – you never know who it might help!