Finally, you have some free time to write! You sit down, put your hands on the keyboard anndddd … nothing. Hmmm, that’s funny. You reposition yourself in your seat and try again. Still nothing. I could use my imagination and try to guess what happens next—maybe there’s a few expletives or some crumpled up sheets of paper. Regardless of what actually ensues, frustration certainly sets in.
I didn’t actually poll the entire population of the world, but I’m pretty confident every single writer that has ever lived experiences writer’s block. It comes with the craft. It can’t necessarily be prevented, but there are ways to overcome writer’s block once it hits!
7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block
1. Nibble on Some Brain Food
Foods with natural sources of energy give you a quick boost to sustain your body over time. Excessive sugar and caffeine can give you that quick boost as well, but your body will crash shortly afterwards. Try energizing brain foods to keep you going longer such as fresh fruit, nuts, dark chocolate, spinach, beans, salmon, quinoa, and kale.
2. Change It Up
Routine can be good for productivity, but sometimes it causes us to just go through the motions. Break up your routine to get out of your writing rut.
- If you do most of your writing on your laptop or tablet: Switch things up by grabbing a spiral notebook and write pen to paper. Slowing things down with handwriting stimulates and engages your mind more than typing out your words.
- Leave your usual writing space and go somewhere new like a library, a coffee shop, or a park bench. Just having a change of scenery can give you a new perspective.
- Find your focus by listening to some mellow music. Studies have shown classical music increases productivity. Ambient sounds from electronic music can relax the mind and quiet noisy distractions.
3. Get Active
Get your blood flowing! This is one of my favorite ways to overcome writer’s block, but I understand some of you will need some convincing, so here we go … When you increase your heart rate, your body pumps more oxygen into your brain. I’m no scientist, but that seems good for creativity. If you’re into it, take a walk, go for a run, lift some weights, play a sport, or do some yoga in your living room.
4. Clear Your Head
Get all the nonsense out of your head. Find something peaceful that allows you to release some of the jumbled up mess in your mind.
- Get some fresh air and enjoy nature.
- Fast for a day. Coldplay frontman Chris Martin fasts once a week to inspire creativity.
- If you’re spiritual, head to your church, temple, or worship location to release any stresses or worries you’re carrying.
- Pour yourself a couple drinks! Just not too many, otherwise your editor is in for a long day!
5. Interact with People
Since writing is such a solitary activity, interaction with people can re-engage and stimulate your brain. Meet up with friends for lunch or call a family member on the phone who you haven’t spoken to in awhile. If you are an extrovert, go to a coffee shop and strike up a conversation with someone.
6. Take a Break
Often times, we get so focused that our minds get tunnel vision and completely block all creativity. So don’t think about the writing piece for awhile. Depending on the severity of your writer’s block, it might be only a day or it might be month or two. Just put it aside for a bit. By taking a break, you’re allowing your brain to refresh so that the next time you sit down to write you’ll have a fresh perspective and new ideas.
7. Lose All Distractions
Consider this: You might not have writer’s block at all. You may just be suffering from chronic distractions. Your phone won’t stop buzzing, Friends reruns are on TV, a cute dog keeps walking by your house, or THE UPSTAIRS NEIGHBORS ARE REALLY LOUD!
Silence your phone, turn off the TV, disable the Wi-Fi connection on your laptop, and if you must, leave to find your ideal writing space. Lose the distractions and regain your concentration.
Free Your Creativity
The upside to writer’s block is that it’s only temporary! So don’t worry too much about it. Once you succumb to the frustration of writer’s block, it tends to snowball and eventually spiral out of control. Instead of overthinking it, try one of these creative ways to overcome writer’s block. Your greatest creativity will come when your mind is free from worry!
Looking for further ways to spark your creativity? Writing warm-ups can do just that!
Originally posted by Marla Jacobson in March 2016. Updated and reposted by Nicholas Furio in March 2018