Whether you write for a living or purely for pleasure, there’s little more daunting than facing writer’s block.
When you stare at the page and find nothing within to draw from, or you’re handed an assignment and haven’t the first clue how to put those ideas into words, you can feel stifled, unproductive and agitated when writing an article.
For many, you can’t afford to have writer’s block let you down, especially if you’re against the clock, so here are 15 insider secrets sure to get you back on the track to inspiration.
1. Take a break
Simple as it sounds, a break helps get your mind out of the rut. Even if you’re on deadline, consider a microbreak – taking five minutes away from the desk to refresh and refocus.
2. Switch on the music
Maybe it’s classical music that helps you think, pop music might get your brain ticking, or it could even be ambient soundscapes that relax new ideas out of you. What counts is getting the creative juices flowing, so listen to what whatever music works for you. That said, scientific studies often conclude that it’s happy, upbeat music that makes people more creative.
3. Eat or drink
A glass of water or a quick snack – preferably healthy – does wonders in reinvigorating your creative muscle. Often, writer’s block is simply a hallmark of mental fatigue. You might have been working on a project for so long that you didn’t even realise you needed refreshments.
4. Go for a run
A complete change of scenery breaks the cycle of writer’s block, and going for a run has been suggested to keep your brain active and upbeat. It’s also said to help your memory, altogether making for a smarter you once you sit back at the screen.
5. Revisit your heroes
Whether it’s an inspiring Ted Talk, your favourite novel or the quotes of the world’s finest minds, inspiration is something to lean on time and time again. When you just can’t seem to type, take some time to reconnect with your role models.
6. Use images as inspiration
If a picture paints a thousand words, trillions of words are a short Google Images search away. Sum up your subject matter into a search phrase, look at the images you get back, and draw inspiration from there. This is particularly helpful if you’re writing descriptive text or a review piece.
7. Get the right input
Specialist authors like Todd Henry suggest that your creative works correlate directly to the input your brain receives. In other words, the media you consume creates the media you put out. If you want brilliant writing to happen, you need to ensure you surround yourself with brilliant writing in your downtime. See if switching the soap operas for more inspiring subject matter makes for a keener mind in the long run.
8. Completely unplug
Phone off, computer shut down, TV unplugged at the wall. If writer’s block seems completely unassailable, take 30 minutes entirely away from every screen and distraction around. Sometimes that solitude frees up the brain to get it working again.
9. Write about your frustrations
If you’re fed up with having writer’s block, write about how fed up you are having writer’s block. Open a new document, vent how you’re irritated at how you can’t get the ideas going for your big content strategy or client, and let it all out. By the time you return to your original assignment, you could be surprised at how you’ve loosened up.
10. Hone in your focus
Whether it’s sunlight glinting off the glass on your desk or the notification pop-ups on your screen, remaining totally focused on your work is often the key to overcoming writer’s block. Tools like Ommwriter exist to completely immerse you in your creative focus, with no diversions between your fingers, the keyboard and the final product.
11. Gain some perspective
Take a broader look at what you’re writing, beyond the realm of research alone. Examine the kind of language being used and the style in which these ideas are presented, and see how it meshes with your own writing style. You can step back to your own project with an outside perspective.
12. Skip ahead
If you don’t know how to begin, skip to the middle. Some writers even find success writing their conclusion first and working back from there. You’ve full control over how you structure your project, and if you can’t find a way to get your work from A to B, try skipping ahead to B to give A a bit of breathing room.
13. Get talking
Whether you’re talking the project over with your colleagues, sharing your worries with your spouse or exchanging views with your friends, a bit of human connection may be all you need to refresh your approach. Often verbalising the task can get your brain working on a different angle, and your sounding boards may also provide some new ideas you hadn’t thought about.
14. Write anyway
Sometimes all you need to do is loosen the gears in your mind, and you can do that by hammering down some words in complete freeflow about absolutely anything. Challenging yourself to keep pace with this improv writing will get your brain active and, by the time you return to your project, could prove vital in giving you a sense of flow.
15. Learn your inner timescale
Some of us are morning people, and others are night owls. You might put out your best work in the morning, or it may be that from 2pm onwards you’re a master of the keys. And while tips like drinking your coffee within an hour of waking up are wise, it pays to be certain you’re in touch with your own inner rhythms. If your writer’s block bouts come at a consistent time of day, for instance, see if you can schedule your work to a more positive and productive time.