“How do I beat writer’s block?” is one of the most common questions we hear from writers. Whether you’re brand new to a writing practice or you’re a seasoned pro, chances are high you’ve dealt with “writer’s block” before. That creeping sense of not being able to find the right words. The dislike of everything you do write. The voice inside your head telling you not to even try, because nothing you write right now will be good enough.
The truth is, writer’s block is just that: a block. And since it’s not likely you’re having to hurdle an actual, physical block to get to your computer or notebook, we can start to see writer’s block for what it truly is: a mental block.
We psych ourselves out, convince ourselves all our ideas and words are bad, go down rabbit holes of procrastination to avoid actually getting any writing done. Who else has cleaned out their pantry, organized their closet by color, scrubbed their bathtub, or performed any other obscure, not-exactly-necessary task to avoid sitting down and writing?
We’ve all been there. Writing feels amazing when we’re in a flow, and the words just seem to pour out of us. But great writing also comes from the days when it feels much harder. When we can push past our mental blocks and get words onto the page. When discipline overcomes a lack of motivation.
The good news is there are some tools you can use to beat writer’s block the next time you feel your brain shutting down on you.
Just start free-writing
The absolute most important thing you can do to beat writer’s block is to just sit down and start. Even if the words don’t make sense, even if the grammar is poor, and even if there is no real point or theme to what you’re writing. Just get words on the page. The easiest way to make this happen is to just free-write for a while. Sit down in front of a blank page, and just write WHATEVER comes to mind. It could be complete gibberish, or stream of consciousness about a specific topic. The only important thing is that you’re getting words on the page, and you’re lighting up your brain. You’d be surprised how much easier the real words can start to form, once you just get your brain firing and your fingers moving.
Research has shown time and time again that movement can stimulate creativity. It doesn’t matter if you stretch out for some yoga, or take a quick walk around your block. But getting the blood flowing can work wonders for your creativity. The whole point of writer’s block is that it makes you feel like you’re stuck — so movement can trick your brain into unsticking itself.
Eliminate your distractions
To beat writer’s block, you’re going to have to stop toggling tabs on your computer. The trick is to lean into the writing itself, not jump ship to Facebook, email, or Google when you feel the first hint of lagging motivation. Block out time you plan on writing, and during that time, use an app that blocks you from visiting certain sites, like social media pages or search engines. When you can narrow in on the writing itself and tune out surrounding noise, the words can really start to percolate. Here is a list of a few apps for distraction-free writing.
Change your environment
If you’re feeling blocked, have you been trying to write from the same desk in the same room every single day? Our brains can be extremely affected by our environments, so it’s important to switch it up every now and then. Head to a nearby cafe, bring your laptop or notebook to the beach, or even try out a coworking space. Bonus points if you’re near a window or outside, where you can see off into the distance — this has been shown to improve your brain’s creativity. And, at the very least, it can just be nice to treat yourself to some fresh air or your favorite cappucino when you’re working on a writing project.
Do not wait for inspiration to strike
The worst thing you can do — that almost assuredly will not help you beat writer’s block — is to sit around and wait for inspiration. Searching for inspiration is the quickest way to make it disappear, first of all. Secondly, it’s important to continue to write, even when it feels hard (especially when it feels hard). If you wait for the perfect moment, or the lightning strike of inspiration to hit you, you’ll probably never get much writing done. Instead, create a routine of writing that you can come back to time and time again. Not every paragraph you craft will be a masterpiece — but that’s what editing is for. The important thing is you’re getting ideas and words onto the page, even on the days where you’re not feeling particularly inspired.
Here at Find Your Voice, we’re always looking to help writers build that routine and get into a regular, sustainable writing practice. Sign up for our Monday Motivation emails to get a weekly writing prompt to stimulate your creativity. Follow us on Instagram for quotes about writing, tips, and more prompts. Or download a resource for that extra boost of help.