Jane paced back and forth in front of her desk, eyeing her computer like it was a cobra ready to strike. Sitting down in her chair, she touched her fingers lightly to the keyboard and immediately recoiled. Once. Twice. Three times. Then she returned to her pacing, no less agitated than before.
Okay, that may be a dramatized depiction, but we can all relate to writer’s block. It can turn that computer you spend so much time with into an arch enemy… the source of intense fear and loathing. Sure, writer’s block happens to everyone, but not everyone has a project due tomorrow morning.
Beat the Block
Thankfully you can take the advice of those who have beaten the block before you. Try one or more of the following when you feel your creative gears grinding to a halt:
- Get lost. While no strategy can guarantee an end to writer’s block, staring at your computer can all but guarantee it will continue. Walk away. Go anywhere and talk or think about anything other than your writing project. Don’t wait. Do it before your block has raised your blood pressure.
- Do a brain dump. Stop trying to form perfect sentences and just write. Sentence fragments. Half thoughts. Single words. Exclamations (I hate this project!). Don’t think at all about spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Just babble on about your topic. The simple act of making your fingers respond to your brain can jumpstart things. Plus seeing words related to your topic on the page can get nerves firing in the ol’ cerebral cortex and start a freeing chain reaction.
- Review your research. Sometimes writer’s block is the result of having too little material to work with. It may seem like there is enough background information in your notes, but your stubborn brain may be disagreeing. See if you can dig up some additional tidbits, even if they aren’t critically important to this piece.
- Fire on other creative cylinders. Sketch, paint, cook, garden… pick a creative activity (even one you’ve never attempted before) and just do it. While it may be completely unrelated to what you are writing, often the act will produce that feeling of inspiration that can be transferred later to your work task.
- Refuel. Late afternoon is notorious for producing writer’s block. The boost from your lunch is fading, your body may be dehydrated, and your poor brain (which consumes a surprising amount of your body’s energy) is running on fumes. Down a tall glass of water (we prefer Eldorado Natural Spring Water), eat a healthy snack, wait 20 minutes or so and dive back into your project.