The irony of suffering writer’s block whilst trying to write about writer’s block is not lost on me. Right now, I’m staring out the window at the beginnings of yet another blizzard, wondering what in the world I have to say about writer’s block that hasn’t been said already. Of course, author Charles Bukowski is quoted as saying, “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.” So, I’ve got that going for me.
But, my suspicion that I have nothing to add to the conversation is rooted in a common trap — fear and self-doubt that one has anything meaningful to say on a particular subject.
Here’s the deal: I’m not going to say anything groundbreaking about writer’s block. Anyone who has ever sat down to write an academic paper, craft a compelling personal statement, or even commit their grocery list to paper with any measure of accuracy has, no doubt, felt stopped at that mental red light.
The purpose of this post is to simply provide a few reminders about how to wriggle out from under the weight of writer’s block, and get back to work. Ultimately, the only way to win in the face of writer’s block is to just. write. something. Anything, in fact.
Teaser tip: Next week, we will explain the creative genius behind copywriter Jenna R. London’s code to crack writer’s block. If you haven’t yet, check out our current giveaway and see if you can make out the madness behind her method… But for now, here is some definition, data, and direction surrounding writer’s block and how to move past it.
Defining Writer’s Block
Go to dictionary.com, and you’ll see that writer’s block is defined as, “the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.” While this definition makes sense, it does gloss over a few realities worth mentioning. Sometimes we do know what to write, but can’t quite nail it down the way we have it in our minds. We know how to “proceed with writing,” but if we have nothing to say, even jotting notes or typing a few random sentences seems futile.
Writer Jeff Goins isolates three key emotional components that can result in writer’s block in his article How to Overcome Writer’s Block: 14 Tricks that Work. He identifies a sense of timing, fear, and perfectionism as roadblocks to realizing progress on the page. What I might offer as an antidote to all three are the words of Margaret Atwood, “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”
A fate far worse than failing to craft compelling copy.
And there is no shortage of celebrated writers who have been quoted about the perils and possibilities associated with writer’s block. Of course, no matter how eloquently phrased or keenly observed, sometimes words ring hollow.
So, what are some practical strategies that one might consider to charge up much needed creative energy?
3 Ways to Find New Fertile Ground
Okay, so Goins offers 14 strategies — each of which, I might add — is valuable. But, here are my three personal faves: walk, read, relax.
Walk (or Run)
Whether walking or running, the point is to get outside, get some air, and get some new perspective. I feel this segues into another of Goins’ suggestions, which is to change up your environment. Granted, that could mean simply moving from your home office into the living room. Or, swap out the kitchen table for a deck chair or porch swing. And this works!
But, I find the combination of consistent movement and a shifting landscape, whether urban or rural, to nurture both body and mind. Up against a looming deadline, I say double-down and log some mental and physical miles.
Yes. It might seem counterproductive (hello, you’re not writing anyway), but reading just about anything will provide a much-needed escape from focusing on your stuck state. Ideally, tuck into something you’re really into, like a new novel or compelling memoir. Whether it’s a story or an article driven by socioeconomic trends and statistics, whatever inspires your imagination is fodder for freedom from writer’s block.
Seriously. You’ve likely experienced writer’s block before and clearly beaten it. You’ll do it again. Stressing over not writing is the surest way to continue not writing. Give yourself some space and however much time can reasonably be allowed before you doom yourself to missing a deadline. Remember, at the end of the day, writing is really your only way out.
Well that, and Jenna’s wonderful game which has proven effective on many occasion, regardless of timing, fear, or perfectionism.
Check out the blog next week and learn how Jenna devised her own escape route far away from the barren terrain of writer’s block. In the meantime, you can always contact the Waypoint Writing team for some expert writing assistance, whether for your website, blog, or any marketing materials in support of your brand.