Of course you’ve heard of writer’s block. But bloggers feel the pain too. Whether you’re just musing on your own or writing for a client on any given topic, sometimes words can be terribly elusive.
So you pluck at the keyboard impatiently, and suddenly you’ve fallen down a Google rabbit hole reading about the latest celebrity meltdown or watching a chihuahua on a skateboard. Unfortunately, neither is likely to offer much writing inspiration.
So what is it that causes this block?
When there’s too much on your plate, you may wonder just where to begin. This causes anxiety, which then inhibits creativity.
While there are numerous approaches to tackling a full load of obligations, I think this quote sums it up best; and while this guy never blogged, I’m certain he probably had a couple bouts of writer’s block throughout his career.
The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.
- Mark Twain
With some jobs, even if you aren’t in the mood, you’re still able to just go through the motions and get the work done. Writing, on the other hand, can be a bit trickier.
Sometimes, the creative juices just remain pulp free. So how can you do your job… when you just can't do your job?
Writing is a job. Some days you don’t feel like doing your job. But there is no “teacher’s block” or “dentist’s block".
- Lois Lowry
A supportive work environment will say that “there’s no such thing as a stupid idea.” Brainstorming was built on this concept. But come on, there are some stupid ideas. I’ve come up with plenty and wound up red-faced after throwing them out there in a meeting.
Fear of rejection can hold a writer back and leave them scared to put their thoughts to paper (after all, that provides a physical record of the idea, and if it sucks, it’s out there forever).
I think writer's block is simply the dread that you are going to write something horrible.
- Roy Blount Jr.
I’ve literally spent hours poring over a sentence or two trying to get them perfect, only to then find myself hours past a deadline with nothing more to show for it than those two crappy sentences. Two crappy sentences that a reader will probably breeze over in two quick seconds.
If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.
- Margaret Atwood
There’s constructive criticism (good), and then there’s just plain criticism (bad). Perhaps a client has torn into your work one too many times.
Maybe you’ve poured your heart into something and this was all you got in response:
It’s hard not to take it personally, as it’s something you wrote; it’s your baby. So in an effort to avoid further poop-flinging, we may overthink our work, writing safe to avoid ridicule or just writing in anticipation of what we think a client wants. And while we may then hit all the marks, we wind up quashing all creativity.
Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.
- John Osborne
So now enough with the reasons and the quotes. You’re looking to break free of Blogger’s Block. These ideas may not be mind-blowing, but sometimes it’s easy to overlook the obvious. Here’s my top ten.
1. Go For a Walk
Whether it’s around the block at home or just a stroll through the parking garage at work, detaching from the desk can really free your mind. Plus, the CDC says walking will help you live longer, so what have you got to lose?
2. Eliminate Distractions
If you’re in the office, co-workers may distract; if you’re at home, maybe it’s the kids. If possible, try stepping away from distractions when you’re in a writing rut.
If you can’t get away? Drown out sound with a white noise app or check out Ommwriter for soothing tracks, natural backgrounds, inspiring typefaces, notification blockers to stay focused, and more.
3. Get Playful
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…” (you’ve seen The Shining, right?). Take a break from work and engage in another activity.
Sure, a video game is fun, but consider something that takes your eyes off the screen and engages your mind (LEGO!) or ups your activity level (Ping Pong!)
4. Change Your View
Our mobile devices and laptops let us wander and work wherever we please. Take advantage of this. Get away from your desk. Get off the couch. Write outdoors. Kick back at the coffee shop.
5. Listen Up
For some, music can be a distraction; for others, it can be a source of inspiration. If the words just aren’t coming to you, perhaps listening to a vocalist with the right words, in perfect harmony no less, may be all it takes to break the block.
6. Brew Some Coffee
Forget the Red Bull and Mountain Dew. A good old-fashioned cup of coffee may be the caffeine fix you need. Not only does a fresh brew smell great and perk up the senses, coffee has been shown to boost memory and thinking skills.
7. Read a Book (or Go to a Bookstore)
When words just won’t come to us, sometimes it helps to read the words of someone else. I don’t mean tabbing over to some website; I’m talking about picking up a book off your shelf and soaking up the literary goodness. (A bookstore can also be a great place to get your writing groove back simply through osmosis).
8. Do a Crossword Puzzle
While a round of Words With Friends on your phone may help, consider disconnecting and engage your mind (while keeping it firmly in writer mode) with a crossword of the print variety.
Try the Wall Street Journal if you’re feeling fierce, or People if you’re feeling kinda dumb.
9. Re-read Your Best Work
It helps to remind yourself just how good you can be when you’re “on.” Re-read some of your best past work and put yourself back into the mindset you held at that time.
10. Cook Something Up
It may sound silly, but cooking could actually get you out of your funk. Cooking is classified as an “executive function,” which improves the ability to sustain focus, solve problems, and multi-task. So get stir frying and stir up some ideas.
Okay, I’m done; have a bit of a blogging block now myself. I’m not even up for composing a solid conclusion, so I’m just going to wrap up by asking that if you have some inspiring ideas of your own, drop them in the comments section below. Together, we can break from the block.