By Dhanu Randi
Have you ever had a temporary black-out in the middle of writing your short story? Have you ever felt stuck with one of your characters or the plot and couldn’t’ get your writing motor to resume? Or have you been distracted with too many promising writing ideas and thoughts at the same time yet couldn’t jot down ONE simple sentence? Were you ever led to wonder one of those times if there’s a creative black-hole in your brain?
I certainly have.
The temporary blockage of your creative writing process is simply known as the writer’s block. Man, those nasty creative-killers! This short paralysis of your creative flow may last for a moment—or, worst—weeks or months. Most experienced writers don’t experience writer’s block often—or better, NEVER—simply because they overcome the writer’s block the minute it occurs.
Of course, one of the most depressing moments every writer would face more than once in their wiring lifespan is, not being able to let his creative juices flow smoothly onto the paper. Regardless of how expert or novice you are at writing, the writer’s block is a completely normal occurrence in any case. The short-term black out of your creative flow is a result of stress, lack of inspiration, motivation or creativity—or all of the above. The good news is that none of this is permanent and can be cured in many effective ways.
I have had my fair share of writer’s block moments and whenever one of those nasty blockages occurs in my head, I practice the following 4 tips to get back in writing. But, sometimes the writer’s block won’t go away for a long time and that is okay. In which case, you will have to take a few days off from your writing and meanwhile keep yourself occupied with other priorities in life and eventually get back to your writing. Sometimes, these long breaks from writing are essential to improve our writing systems and help us create more impressive pieces of writing as well.
Regardless, the next time your mind is clogged and your creative flow is at halt, you can try the following 4 tips—or one of them—and step out of your writer’s block state in your own way that works the best for you.
- Take a Break
Get up from your chair, move away from your writing desk and go to an open space. For me, I take a quick walk to my garden and let some fresh air fill my lungs. If you don’t have an open space in your house (i.e. If you live in a flat), you can take a walk downtown. You can observe little insignificant details during your quick walk. You’re not only allowing your mind to relax, but you’re also allowing your 5 senses—Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, Touch to cooperate which will help you write better when you sit down with a pen and a paper next time.
- Relax your brain.
Like I mentioned with the number 1 tip, allow yourself a reasonable period of time to relax your brain, physically and mentally as long as your brain demands. More often than not, we, the writers keep writing without stopping and this may sometimes be a bad thing because it will exhaust our brains and cause temporary stress. What we don’t realize is that it’s important to not stress our brain cells and nerves because when your brain is exhausted, no matter how hard you try, the creative flow will be blocked because your brain is too tired to process. Consequently, you need to release your stress, free your mind and help the nerves and cells in your brain to function properly before you take your pen and start writing, again.
Ways to relax your brain.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Take a bath
- Pet and play with your dog
- Cook a new recipe
- Take a nap
- Watch that last movie you bought and haven’t watched yet
- Hang out and spend time with your family/friends or your significant other or any one who you like spending time with.
- Get Inspired
Once you feel your mind is relaxed, read something- anything. Pick your favorite books from the shelf and read for awhile. It will help you get into the writing mood. It doesn’t have to be a book either. When I’m having one of those writer’s block moments, I read something on the internet: an article, quotes, a web site that I love, or a book/movie review. No matter how long it takes, the process of reading always helps me pick up an instant to get started on writing. If you’re a writer, the reading process ultimately inspire and motivate you to write.
- Warm Up Exercises
Another thing I do when my creativity is blocked is, trying different writing exercises for a few minutes. Below are some of the exercises that never fails to rescue me whenever I’m drowning in the writer’s block syndrome.
- Pick a noun. An animal, an object within your sight, a person, a place or any descriptive noun.
Write about it for a few minutes. No editing or proofreading or spell checking. Just write 5 to 10 sentences or however more you feel like writing. Keep writing. Once you think you’re out of ideas for that particular subject, pick another one and keep repeating the process. This process helps me to get myself into the writer’s mood and stimulate my brain nerves for a better and smooth writing flow. You can do some editing and proof reading once you feel the blockage has lifted and motivated enough.
- Random Writing Prompts
You can come up with one of your own (ex: ask a question from yourself) or you can easily find one through a newspaper, book, your own living room, or from the internet. Write more than 100 words using the prompt as a guide. There are free e-books that have more than 100 writing prompts and I have downloaded a few of them to save me from pulling my hair out the next time a writing block occurs to me.
- Photo Prompts
Find a magazine and cut out an image. You can also take a picture book or cover page of a book and there’s no need to cut and remove the picture, just simply use it as a prompt. My favorite one is a photograph from my own albums or my PC gallery. Write about the picture in front of your eyes, anything and everything that comes to your mind about it. The visual image will help your brain stimulation and send signals to the cells in your brain which controls and triggers your writing, thinking and processing skills. I have listed two useful articles to help you understand more about how neuroscience enhance one’s writing.
Your Brain on Fiction By Annie Murphy Paul
How brain science can make you a better writer By Chip Scanlan
Overcoming the Writer’s block may seem impossible and you’ll almost want to give up your writing and throw your draft into the bin, but it’s not as hard as it seems. Find what ways works for your brain to stimulate your creativity and beat the writer’s block that gets in your way.
Now, put that thinking hat back in your head and get back to work.
Hope this post help you get your writer’s block cured the next time it leaves you in despair. What are your ways to get out of the writer’s block? What did I miss?
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