Lifestyle

9 Ways to Knock Writer’s Block out of the Park

Writing slump is real! I am going through one right now. I started writing this article 5 days back and it should have been completed by now, but instead here I am – hitting delete more often than I would like. As an unemployed, freelance writer, I have a lot of time on my hands. In theory, extra time on hand is always better than no time. But for someone like me, extra time often makes it difficult for me to navigate my emotions and fall into a routine. 

I seem to have two extremes – my brain is either on a hyperactive mode or a complete slump. When the setting is on the former, I would have a 100 thoughts per minute – a new blog idea or a course I want to sign-up for.. it’s a super-fast and highly motivated energy buzzing through my entire being. That’s when I get great ideas. That is also when I get random thoughts from my sub-conscious/gut that when acted upon often lead to positive results. But on the other hand, when I’m in a lazy slump, you’ll find me curled up with a book and obsessing over my lack of motivation (and a huge task list).

To give you a better understanding. Here is my current to-do list:

  • Start work on 5 blog articles
  • Explore the concept of a weekly themed blog feature 
  • Finish reading 2 books for review
  • Be regular with learning web development coding
  • Subscription to learning Spanish
  • Practice reiki and meditation
  • Practice animal communication
  • Signed-up for a Masters in Psychology distance learning course
  • Ongoing freelance projects and pitch for new clients

Phew.

In the last 2 weeks I realise I have taken too much on my plate. I went through each item to try and see if I can remove anything, but you know what? I don’t want to. When lockdown hit and I quit my job, I told myself that this is the time to do everything I ever wanted to do. So while watching Money Heist and Narcos, I felt a strong urge to expand my Spanish vocabulary beyond Puta and Por Favor. Hence the Spanish course. Next year, I’d want to move my website to a self-hosted platform. Hence the interest in web development.

Inspite of a growing list of interests, I’m most passionate about writing – whether it is working on my own blog or understanding my client’s needs and creating beautiful content pieces. But with a love for writing, also comes the fear of failure, self-doubt and the writer’s block.

9 Ways to Get Rid of the Writer’s Block

1. Explore a different passion

I love to write. I love how my jumbled thoughts flow so seamlessly to paper. Writing helps me to be a better reader and a better thinker. It allows me to question myself as a person. But I’d be lying if I say that I can write every day for hours at a stretch. There are days when I don’t even want to open my laptop. Those are the days when I’ll turn to my other interests (one of the many listed above), allowing my writing brain to recuperate.

2. Do something completely opposite

I get deeply annoyed with mindless TV. At times when my procrastination has gone out of hand, i’ll switch on Netflix and put on a ‘reality’ series like Selling Sunset or Love is Blind or something like that. Within a couple of hours, I’ll be ready to pull myself up together. This is when i’ll either grab a book or open my laptop to get going. I call this method shocking the brain to do something productive.

3. Move around

Pretty much all self-help articles have this as a point. Move around not in the form of cardio, HIIT session or a run, but as simple as get up and walk to the kitchen for a piece of chocolate. On your way there, pat your dog and wake her up from her sleep. Throw her a couple of biscuits and let her chase you around for more. Just by stepping away from your desk, you are hitting the refresh button on your brain.

4. Leave your desk behind

We writers love our workspace. A comfy chair and a quiet space to get the creative juices flowing. While the brain loves a sense of familiarity, but when the block sets in – the familiar needs to be shaken. I love to move around my house and find cozy spots. Now with winter coming, I am looking forward to escaping to the terrace post lunch to soak up some sun. An hour on the couch won’t kill your back!

5. Sleep it off

If your writing can be postponed to the next day, then great. But if you’re running on a tight deadline, then instead of forcing words to spill out – take a nap. A 20-min shut eye calms the brain and when you wake up you’re more likely to feel rejuvenated and motivated to get down to business.

6. Start a daily task-list

Every morning, before starting your day, jot down your priority items for the day. My to-do list (from above) right now seems crazy. There is no way I can possibly touch upon each of these items everyday. Instead, I have now started to break it down day-wise and it may look something like this:

  • Web Development: 1 Hr
  • Meditation/Grounding practice: 30 mins
  • Write a blog article: 1-2 Hrs
  • Finish 50 pages from my current book
  • Freelance writing job search/networking

If you can plan a routine and stick to it, that’s great! I can’t. So instead of planning days in advance, I only decide in the morning what I feel like doing that day. If you give yourself the freedom to take each day as it comes, you also feel a push to make sure the tasks of the day are completed by the time you hit the bed at night.

7. Ramble on

The dictionary definition of ramble is: talk or write at length in a confused or inconsequential way. Best way to get yourself out of the block is to ramble. Open a new Word document and just start typing – what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling this way, your latest dream, what annoyed you recently etc. Just let your thoughts guide your fingers as they type. No heading, no grammar checks just an open playing field for you to run around (mentally!).

8. Time yourself

When I feel stuck and unable to form words, I challenge myself to write uninterrupted for 10 mins. I put my phone on silent, turn it upside down, close all irrelevant tabs and turn on the DND setting on my laptop. No distractions and the pressure to make the most of those few minutes will compel you to write something – anything. Start with 10 mins and slowly increase it to longer times.

9. Let the Oxytocin flow

It’s scientifically proven that release of Oxytocin, the happiness hormone has a direct affect on productivity. So if you’re spending a couple of hours a day scrolling through Instagram reels looking at dog and cat videos, then that might not be so bad. Checking out dog videos, really makes me happy, like filling-my-heart-with-a-warm-golden-light happy. Find your thing and use it whenever you need that kick.

Writer’s block is one of the most common feeling writers face multiple times in their career. It comes with the job. There is no avoiding it and the best you can do is to find your own ways to deal with it. It’s interesting to know that some of the most famous writers (Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, JK Rowling) too came face-to-face with it at some point in their lives.

How do you pull yourself out from the writing slump? Any unique ways that work for you?


19 comments on “9 Ways to Knock Writer’s Block out of the Park

  1. Thank you for writing this one!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: 9 Ways to Knock Writer’s Block out of the Park – State Of Chaos

  3. Approaches for me are to go out for a walk and get fresh air, it seems to clear the mind and give me motivation.

    Something else I do is always write short crib notes as sometimes inspiration comes at the wrong time when I’m busy, then when I’m not feeling inspired I’ll go back through these and see if it refreshes my memory (or come up with new ideas), I can usually write something from that.

    I also try different forms of writing, I might just write something about my day, something learned at work, or even try crafting a poem even though it’s not my type of writing I find it gets me thinking about how words flow together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so interesting. I realise I too get bursts of inspiration, but never long enough for me to pen it down. Thankfully, they almost always return when I’m writing. I should really get in the habit for writing them down!
      Thanks for sharing your approaches.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No problem, if I don’t have a note pad I tend to just make a note on my phone or send an instant message to myself so I don’t lose the thought!

        Like

  4. I’ve been lucky, I’ve never really had writer’s block, my issue is always motivation. That’s the battle I struggle with, day in day out

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brooke Ressell

    I feel the same way. I either get really into writing or I can’t get motivated at all. But walking away for a little bit and doing something else really helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fabulous tips here! I find myself having writers block a little more now too. I think timing yourself is a great idea! And watching mindless TV helps too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never thought of rambling! It’s a good one isn’t it. To let your thoughts flow, with no hang ups. I’ll try it

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great ideas! I usually try the do something else you’re passionate about technique – or the exercise one. Especially in the afternoon when I start to get a little sluggish. Also getting outside really helps me! If I can paddle my canoe outside for an hour or so that usually does wonders for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s beautiful if you can do that! To really enjoy the outdoors, I’d have to travel a fair bit to get some clean air. 😅 But I know what you mean, just walking my dog for a couple of blocks really helps clear out my mind.

      Like

  9. Pursuing something different for a while, like writing a short story or taking part in a poetry challenge, always helps me get more motivated to get back into my regular writing. I also love the idea of rambling; so much comes out of just putting down how we feel immediately and seeing what comes of it!
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love rambling too. I find it an effective way to release all my emotional blockages. You write poetry beautifully! I wish I could write poetry, it’s something I’ve never tried and I’d have no idea where/how to begin 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, all your tips are practical and great. I liked the idea of, moving around, sleep off, take every day as it comes. Good luck, Twishaa, and thanks for sharing such simple and easy steps to do!🤗👏

    Liked by 1 person

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