Three Tips for Combating Writer’s Block
by Gianna Forgen
Every writer knows the struggles of dealing with writer’s block; no matter how hard you want to write, nothing comes to you, or, if it does, you’re unhappy with it. When we have writer’s block for a long time, we may even start to believe that it will never go away–and this isn’t true! Sometimes the best way to battle writer’s block is to fight back against it without succumbing. Here are three ways you can combat your writer’s block and end up winning.
1. Write in a notebook or on paper.
When we spend a lot of time writing on our computers or even our phones, we forget where writing started–on paper. Our brains associate so many activities with electronics, from work to games to sending emails. Switching from a screen to paper can make a huge difference, putting our brain in a more quiet space without so many distractions. On paper, there are no other tabs, bookmarks, or apps for us to open and lose track of time in. There’s just the paper and you.
The next time you’re working on your writing and you start to feel stuck, try getting out a notebook and writing there instead. Let yourself go and your mind wander freely; eventually, there’s a good chance you’ll fall right back into the rhythm you thought you’d lost.
2. Let yourself write badly.
Writers tend to be perfectionists. We want to write great things, and when we get writer’s block and produce work we aren’t proud of, it hurts. A great way to fight both your writer’s block and your perfectionism is letting yourself write badly. Just keep writing, even if you don’t like what’s showing up on screen or page. You might notice, like in the previous tip, that you find your rhythm again. If you don’t, don’t fret–you can always go back later and revise.
If you don’t think you’re willing to let yourself write badly, instead try and do it on purpose. If you’re writing a fictional scene, for example, put in filler words for witty comebacks you can’t think of on the spot, or use weak, nonsensical metaphors to describe the setting. Intentionally write poorly, forgetting the rules of grammar and spelling, forgetting anyone might ever read your work. What you end up with will probably be unreadable to anyone else, but guess what? You still wrote something. The next time you go back to it, you’ll feel compelled to clean it up as you revise, and your draft will slowly but surely become polished. Take that, writer’s block!
3. Read something that inspires you.
For so many of us writers, the reason we started writing in the first place was due to our love of reading. We can all probably think of at least one book that inspired us to write, whether it was as a child or very recently. Inspiration is a powerful tool for a writer, and it’s something you have readily available at your fingertips in the form of a book.
Grab a favorite book–or find it digitally–and reread it, or just look over some sections. Don’t think about your own writing while you read, just let yourself be immersed in the story, the dialogue, the prose. Do it multiple times if you need to. Sometimes all we need is to step away from our writing, and go back to our readerly roots. When you finish reading, there’s a good chance you’ll look at your writing again in a new light, feeling inspired.
Writer’s block can be frustrating, and it often seems like we should just give up and never look back. When we feel this way, we need to remember that we can always fight back. These are just a few of the ways we can do so; changing up the medium, writing badly, and reading are great opportunities for you to embrace challenge and look it right in the eye. Try out one of these tips the next time you’re feeling stuck with your writing–you just might come out of battle victorious.