Let’s talk about writer’s block and how we can overcome it…
Hey everyone. It’s been a hot minute.
I wish I had a legitimate excuse for my lengthy hiatus but, honestly, my life isn’t that interesting.
I haven’t been sunning myself on white sandy beaches or travelling the world. My internet connection is fine (I’m still intimately acquainted with Netflix). I’ve not broken all the bones in my hands in some freak yoga accident, leaving me unable to type.
My absence is down to one thing: lack of motivation.
There, I said it – I can’t be bothered to write.
It’s embarrassing really. I feel like I’m doing the walk of shame back to my own blog, like all my eager readers
lol know I’ve been up to no good. Instead of creating, I’ve been consuming; gorging on serial killer documentaries, wine spritzers and Maryland Cookies.
Sometimes, I wish I was more like Dwayne Johnson, or Ironman.
They eat goals for breakfast. They’re the sort of people who work out, meditate, shag their secretary AND clear their inbox by 9am (I’m joking, The Rock is wholesome). I mean, they also have a team of trainers, chefs and personal assistants to keep them in shape. Oh, and Ironman has a suit of power armour… which probably helps.
and hired help isn’t so accessible for the rest of us.
We have to work, sleep and eat. There are children, pets and houseplants to take care of (admittedly, of which I have none, but you get the point). Sometimes, writing a blog post comes low on our list of priorities.
Nevertheless, we can’t quit.
We have important topics to cover, like how to avoid camel toe like a pro (some of my best work).
Overcoming writer’s block isn’t easy but it can be done. Just implement my five favourite hacks below.
P.S. none of these involve hauling your arse out of bed at the crack of dawn.
Tips to overcome writer’s block
Get a hobby
Stop being such a bore and spice up your life, Susan.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to take a salsa class or make sushi
idk. You could be a closet crocheter, brilliant baker or undiscovered world-class ukulele player.
Whatever it is, just make sure it doesn’t involve writing.
There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, a hobby gives your brain a much-needed break. Sometimes, writing feels like pulling teeth and, as much as you try, you can’t coax that pesky idea out. The best thing to do is step back, breathe and return when you’re less burnt out.
Secondly, it gives you another source of inspiration. You might see, hear or taste something that sets your world on fire and inspires new ideas. Plus, it’s much easier to document real-life situations because it requires less imagination. If you’re struggling to create something, try writing a restaurant review, opinion piece or summary of whatever activity you choose.
There’s no need to be poetic – just relate events as they happen using matter-of-fact language.
Move your body
Hold my beer, I’m going to lay down some facts.
We already know exercise reduces stress, focuses the mind, increases productivity and benefits long-term memory. However, new research suggests it also improves creativity.
Cardio workouts stimulate the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, which is the region responsible for thinking hypothetically. And what is story-telling if not imagining new situations and creating a world where anything could happen?
This isn’t bro-science. Many notable authors have felt the positive effects of exercise first-hand.
Friedrich Nietzsche believed “all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking” and Haruki Murakami, whose award-winning work has been translated into 50 languages, credits running for his ingenuity.
Plus, moving your body is meditative. It encourages a state of empty-mindedness and allows room for ideas to grow.
So, stop chewing your pen and start pounding pavements.
Rethink your surroundings
Our environment reflects our state of mind.
On a physical level, nobody wants to spend time in a place littered with last week’s leftovers and mouldy mugs. It’s not very feng shui.
On a spiritual level, a messy space leads to messy thoughts. It’s true that “where attention goes, energy flows”. If you have loads of junk lying around, there’s more chance you’ll be distracted.
For example, the other day, instead of writing, I spent twenty minutes playing with a Rubik’s Cube just because it was on my desk.
If I didn’t keep toys near my laptop, writer’s block would never be an issue and I’d probably be a famous author by now.
In a desperate bid to find inspiration, I bought Rich Roll’s memoir the other day.
It’s called “Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself”.
Could there be a more motivating title?!
Anyway, it’s a great book and I totally recommend it. It made me want to be a better person
for a whole ten minutes.
While I have literally no interest in endurance sports or giving up goat’s cheese (he’s a poster boy for veganism), some of what he said hit home.
Especially the idea that mood follows action.
Typically, we think it works the other way around. We tell ourselves if only we felt a bit calmer, healthier or happier, we’d act. We put tasks off until the time is “right”. But what if that time never comes?
Sometimes, motivation takes force and the feeling good bit comes later.
To achieve success, the most important thing you need to do is show up. Simply starting a task can lift your mood. It’s about forcing the process using a bit of perseverance. And remember, perfection isn’t the ultimate goal – consistency is.
Just write and the rest will follow.
Give yourself deadlines
Nothing is more motivating than fear.
Humans are last minute creatures. Why put ourselves through months of planning when we can cram a week’s worth of work into an hour, amiright? My best work was completed at 3 am in the university library, fuelled by greasy pizza (which is still giving me acid reflux) and lukewarm coffee.
Why do we work better under pressure?
Goals that are far from a person in time, space or both are too abstract. Our brains can’t comprehend their importance.
For example, take Christmas. Sure, we know it’s a big deal. We know we should start buying presents in October to avoid the December rush. But so many of us leave our shopping until the last minute because we think we have time.
Goals that are closer in time and space are more specific, therefore easier to implement. There’s a sense of urgency and our minds see tangible ways to reach them.
That being said, people do react differently to stress. A deadline provokes overwhelming fear in one person, rendering them incapable of action, but inspires focus and zero-tolerance for distractions in others.
It’s best to play around with this idea. One thing’s for sure though, we all need some tough love sometimes – it might be the answer to your writer’s block.