If you are a writer who has experienced writer’s block, you know how frustrating it can be. The inability to express yourself when you really want to can feel overwhelming. Whether you are a songwriter trying to pen the perfect lyric, or a novelist in search of the ultimate ending to your plot, writer’s block can sometimes make you feel like ditching the entire creative process.
But fear not: I have compiled a list of several simple things you can do to break the dam that is blocking your word flow. Try one of them, or try them all. I’ve been there before, and I can vouch for each and every one of these as effective tools for ending the dreaded writer’s block. Good luck!
1. Write something entirely different. Sometimes stepping outside of your comfort zone can free your creativity. Experiment with content or a perspective that is unique to your genre or typical subject matter. The same old themes, characters, and stylings can cause you to grow tired of the entire writing process. Once this happens, you might be a step away from unintentionally walking into a long and exhausting bout with writer’s block.
Explore new genres or sub-genres. Examine new trends in your chosen field. Discover one or more experts in your field who is doing something interesting, and mimic their approach. Variety is the spice of life. It is also key to keeping your content fresh and intriguing – both to you and those who enjoy your writing.
2. Write in a different setting and at a different time. A change of scenery can be the perfect antidote for what’s ailing the blocked writer. If you typically write from home, venture to the great outdoors. If you have a favorite table at your local Starbucks, perhaps it’s time you move on to a different venue.
Likewise, if you are a morning bird, spend a week holding off on your writing until after lunch. If you tend to write at night, flip things around and grab your tools of the writing trade first thing in the morning. Mix things up a bit.
3. Hang out at a bookstore. As a writer, there is something inherently inspiring about being surrounded by books and the people who read them. I very often find myself inspired by the mere sights and sounds of bookstores.
While most any bookstore will usually do the trick, I feel a distinct sense of creative motivation in older used bookstores. There is something about these hip storehouses of old and new ideas that unleashes my inner wordsmith. If there happens to be a used vinyl record shop in or near the bookstore, even better.
4. “Borrow” from somebody else. You have heard the saying that “there is nothing new under the sun,” right? Well, it is true. Even the most talented writers tend to recycle previously used themes, styles, and phrases. The trick is to borrow from the best while somehow making your new product entirely yours.
If you are a songwriter, find some of your favorite lyrics and use them as a starting point by paraphrasing the lines. If you write short stories, discover a character from another story and create a mirror image of that character. Or better yet, create a character that is the exact opposite.
The goal is to use the inspiration of other people’s work as a springboard for your own masterpiece. If all goes well, your song, book, short story, or blog post could very well end up inspiring another frustrated writer.
5. Stop writing for other people, and start writing for you. One of the biggest causes of my occasional word blockage is my tendency to write for other people. What do I mean by that? Well, sometimes I wonder to myself what a particular person or audience would want to hear in my writing. I then shape my writing based on that.
The problem with this method is that it can cause you to overthink your writing. Creativity ought to be relatively spontaneous and inspired by pure and unfiltered thoughts and emotions. Trying to figure out what a specific audience wants encourages the exact opposite of that. It can lead to forced writing that puts pressure on you. And if we were to break down writer’s block to its simplest form, it would probably have a lot to do with pressure, be it external or internal.
So relax. Write something you want to read or hear. If you genuinely enjoy your topic, you will be much more inclined to enjoy the process. Once you begin enjoying the process, you will very likely be on the verge of ending your writer’s block.