6 Remedies for 'Writer's Block'

I don’t recall ever suffering from ‘writer’s block’, in the same way that I don’t think I’ve been bored since I was about 7. There always seems to be too much to do, and certainly too much to write about. But I’ve observed plenty of this phenomenon in others and studied the matter. So here I offer some suggested remedies for the situation in which you simply hit a ‘wall’ and cannot move forward with a piece of writing. Most of these remedies can be found in some form elsewhere, though here they get a unique twist.

1. Write in short bursts.

This won’t help if you are stuck in the middle of writer’s block right now, but to avoid the problem altogether, try to avoid writing in massive marathon stints. Just as with an athletic sport, a writer has a ‘stamina’ which needs to be maintained, and the best way to keep up one’s strength is to tackle the job in short bursts. Write for 20 minutes or half and hour, then stop and check social media, make a cup of tea, gaze out of the window, even read another book or a newspaper for a few minutes. Then launch back into the writing. This short burst approach keeps you ‘grounded’ in the environment in which you’re writing. This might sound counter-intuitive - surely you’re trying to escape your environment while writing? But the imagination needs to be ‘earthed’ like an electrical wire. Stopping writing and then starting again is a regime which can be kept up for hours and hours - you’ll find yourself getting more done!

2. Do something else creative.

If you’re really stuck, try drawing a picture, or write a poem, or go and build something outside. Similar to the point above, the imagination is like a muscle - if you keep on using the same part of the muscle over and over, it will get strained and become immobile. Using a different part of the muscle by doing something else imaginative helps to build up your overall strength. When you go back to writing you’ll feel refreshed, stronger and more able to carry on.

3. Write anything, without worrying about punctuation or correct spelling.

Another explanation for writer’s block is that it is a build up or accumulation of you stopping yourself, grinding to a halt to correct spelling, punctuation, grammar or other details. Instead of flow, flow, flow, your writing becomes stop, stop, stop. This is tiring and eventually adds up to a complete halt. To tackle this, write freely, putting words down at random about anything, not necessarily the piece you’re working on. Change the subject many times. Write a rant about something that happened recently that you didn’t like or disagreed with. Jot down a commentary on current events. After usually only a short while, you have ‘limbered up’ enough to proceed. And then from that point on, write larger chunks of work before you start to self-edit - your writing morale will come up.

4. Go for a long walk.