There’s a lot of debate out there about whether or not writer’s block—the inability to write—is even real. Some people think it’s an excuse, others swear it’s a phenomenon that befalls even the hardest-working writers on the planet. Regardless of your personal theories on the subject, you’ll probably experience days or even weeks when the words simply do not flow. The good news is many writers and authors have dealt with this problem, and they’ve come up with a host of creative strategies to tackle it. Read on for some of my favorites!
Write Every Day
One way to form a strong habit is to simply do it every day. If you write every day, you’re in good company—Jack London believed writing daily was the best way to achieve inspiration. Likewise, Maya Angelou believed writing is like a sport that takes practice.
Anthony Trollope’s “timed writing” strategy is something that I can attest to first-hand. In high school, my class had to do Timed Writes every week. We’d get a prompt and write a full essay inside of forty or so minutes. After that year, I could crush out an essay in one or two days, while it took some of my peers weeks to do the same.
Take a Break
For some, however, forcing yourself to write only makes things worse. You have to find the strategy that works best for you, and that might just involve putting your work away for a little while. As with anything, if you’re hitting your head against a brick wall, taking a break and coming back to it almost always helps us view things in a new light. Haruki Murakami gets away from his writing by running. Hemingway counseled writers to stop while things were going well, so when you start again you know what’s going to happen next.
Write What You Want
It is easier to get into the flow when you stop writing for your readers—write what you want, instead. Along the same vein, stop meticulously planning your posts if you are a regular blogger, as it sucks the joy out of writing. It can sometimes be easy to forget that a first draft is just a first draft. It should have a lot of messy energy. The fact is, it is much easier to revise something you’ve already written, even if the essay or blog post or story needs a lot of changes, than it is to stare at a blank page.
By free writing without censoring yourself or thinking about your audience, you may start to find that writing is nearly as easy as simply speaking to one valued friend. John Steinbeck, for example, reminds us that in all writing, your audience is one reader, sitting alone with your words.
Embrace a Ritual
Toni Morrison gets up when it’s still dark, makes coffee, and watches the sun rise before she writes. This ritual helps her to get in the correct mindset. Eliminate distractions and try writing at different times of the day to see what works best for you.
Remember, if writer’s block should strike, there are many things you can try to break the spell. You’re in good company.
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