Simply put, writer’s block is FEAR.
Writer’s block can start as early as looking at a blank page or trying to find the right topic. Mid-project blocks usually arrive from not knowing your audience, worrying that your audience won’t like it or you run out of steam because you haven’t researched enough. These latter examples are the self-confidence killers and can rear their ugly heads at any stage of your project.
Regardless, of when your fear begins, from then on your struggle is to complete your thought. Sometimes you have a topic but lack inspiration and the stress from a looming deadline stops you cold. Or you have a multitude of inspiring ideas? This too, can prove just as problematic. Bizarre I know, but when you have many closely related topics you can find this overwhelming and can stymie you from writing. Or with topics already heavily published, finding an original angle to present your information is no easy task. Large projects are an obvious problem. Just by their size and not knowing where to begin the project, never mind managing it to completion.
So what’s the solution?
Easily said but it’s true. Participation in sports is the most immediate and effective form of relaxation. Besides, flexing your muscles you also release endorphins. Essentially it’s a group of peptides that are secreted from the pituitary gland in your brain giving you a natural rush or sense of euphoria.
As you know, any physical movement not only makes you look better physically. But exercise is a great mental stress release too thanks to the endorphin’s feel-good-effect. Your mind works most efficiently when in a relaxed state. Therefore once you are out of the state of stress or high anxiety your brain will begin computing solutions again. Most software companies recognize this and provide a gym and playing fields for their employees.
That doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon every time you`re stressed because even walking around the block will release some endorphins. A change of scene can also help such as taking an early lunch or doing some small errands. My favorite problem solving environment is the kitchen. I`ll go in and cook or bake something complicated where my focus is purely on the color, smell, texture and taste of the food, resulting in a couple of possible answers as well as a solution to dinner too!
In severe cases of writer`s block begin regular writing exercises to help get you back on track. As with any pursuit you have to train regularly to improve and make the task easier. Surprisingly, a letter to a friend is your most valuable writing exercise. Your audience is one that you know well. Therefore, you will use a natural tone as if you were talking directly to them. Your fear of the audience is negligible because you know you have a receptive and nonjudgmental reader for whatever you have to say. The best part, is the topic is something you are intimately familiar with – YOU. Writing letters also end naturally. Other recommended writing exercises are listing out your day in a journal or on a calendar. Alternatively, write out a top ten of something. Putting constraints on your exercise is important because they detract your focus from your fear. Occasionally, heavily constrained tasks can kick in your imagination and bring about something inspiring.
Remember, it is important to keep your writing exercises small where there is a predefined end. That way you know when to stop. You restore your confidence and enjoy the euphoria of completion.
The only way to survive writer’s block is to push your way through your fear. Combining regular physical and written exercises are your first steps to overcoming your writer’s block.
Have you ever had a block? Leave a comment, tell me how you over came it.