Being a writer myself I have come across various situations in which I was staring at the blank screen of my computer without having a single idea on what to write next. It is not the silence or the feeling of emptiness that makes this so awkward, but the many self-critical questions that start to arise in these situations, such as “Where is the spark of creativity, where are the ideas that pop into my head and the interest that normally would help me to start writing?”
Did you know that even the most brilliant writers suffer from writer’s block every once in a while? Earnest Hemmingway was probably one of the most famous authors that experienced this really nasty condition for an author. History has also shown us that especially people who are dependent on their creativity tend to use drugs and psychedelics with the attempt to enhance their creativity and to overcome the moments of being uninspired during an author’s block. However, this is a blog about personal development, which is why I will show you some much more effective ways that helped me to overcome writer’s block effectively, without taking any harmful substances that could turn into an addiction.
Overcoming the Writer’s Block:
Avoid procrastination and distractions
From my own experience I know that whenever I stare at the a blank document in my computer, being stuck in writer’s block without having ideas on what to write down, I tend to distract myself, nearly automatically. I think I can even say that it has become a habit to distract myself as much as possible, whenever I’m facing a writer’s block, which just increases the feeling of having no idea on what to write next. Often, I did not even realize that I was just surfing through the news sites on the internet as an attempt to procrastinate and distract myself.
How does that help me to overcome writer’s block? I highly recommend you not to distract yourself when being stock in writer’s block. Writer’s block often occurs at the beginning of the writing process, when ideas refuse to arise and your creativity seems to have abandoned you. However, it pays off to fight and to overcome this barrier without distracting yourself, as you will know that once you are “in the flow” of writing ideas will start to arise and it becomes more and more easy to continue writing.
I have noticed that I’m becoming more creative the later in the evening it gets; sometimes the very best ideas arose when I was lying comfortably in my bed. Normally I would have forgotten these ideas the very moment I had fallen asleep, only to experience the uncomfortable feeling that I must have forgotten something when waking up in the morning. That was the reason I made it a habit to write down these ideas on a piece of paper that is placed on the nightstand beside my bed. So, whenever I get up I have some words scribbled at my paper that help me to remember the wonderful ideas I had when lying in bed.
How does this tip help me overcoming my writer’s block? The writer’s block has a lot to do with a lack of creativity and inspiration, which is why it can be really helpful to write inspiring ideas down wherever you are, even if those ideas start to arise when you are lying in bed. What is most important is that you identify these situations that inspire you and where the best ideas arise. Some people get inspired by visiting a museum or an art gallery, so you could grab a little notebook and write down all the inspiring thoughts that pop into mind, whenever you visit such an exhibition.
The dream-like state:
The following exercise takes a lot of willpower to be performed, but the results can be really amazing as it allows you to start writing after you were in a highly creative state of mind: the state of dreaming. All it takes is to start writing after you just woke up from a dream, rather than sleeping on. Now, the reason I said this would take a lot of willpower is because I’m a late riser, as I get up between 7am to 8am (here is the reason I’m a late riser) and I really love to sleep on, even after being wake for some minutes. So basically to perform this exercise I would have to get up at 5am or 6am in order to start writing before my regular day begins. However, whenever I can get myself to get up and start writing after awaking from a dream the ideas figuratively just flow from my brain onto the paper, without me having to do anything except writing. I really love the results that come up whenever I start writing in such a dizzy state of mind, shortly after awaking; plus it is a drug free alternative. Sometimes I write just some short paragraphs, but when I really peak inspiration during these sessions I have filled some sites with my words, before going back to sleep again.
In the past I used just a pad of paper where a topic or a question was written at the top of it, that I would like to write about. However, turning on the lights in the night can be quite annoying, which is why I became more comfortable with using a really old laptop that could easily be dimmed to such a high level that the screen did not dazzle me at all.
How does that help me to overcome writer’s block? It is more likely that you can produce something creative when your mind was already in a highly creative state rather than sitting at the table and staring at a blank paper, which makes this exercise so effective. Make sure that you have a topic or question you would like to write about written at the top of your paper or on the top of the document on your laptop. The text you produce might not have the highest quality, which is why it is very important to edit it and to make more in-depth additions when you are really awake.
Whenever I’m being stuck in writer’s block I find it difficult to start or continue writing on my current project as ideas do not seem to arise for this specific topic. In these situations it can do wonders by switching to another project, especially if I find the project more interesting at the very moment.
How can this be useful to overcome writer’s block? Writer’s block is often confined to a current project and the topic that need to be discussed in this project, which means that you can avoid long periods of writer’s block by switching to another project. I also find it helpful to work on more than just one article at a time, as it allows me to switch in-between these articles, whenever a minor writer’s block occurs.
Turn on the music:
As I was watching the Hollywood movie “Inception” the brooding bass line that seems to be an omnipresent part of all the adventurous scenes in that movie really catched my attention. It was a somehow very distinctive sound, which is why I listened to it a couple of times on youtube and found it very inspirational, as new ideas and thoughts started to arise when solely listening to the sound. The right music can be highly inspirational as it elicits emotions within everyone of us and stimulates our creativity.
How can music help me to overcome the writer’s block? Turn on the music, close your eyes and let yourself get inspired by the various sounds and the imaginative images that will start to arise within your mind. The only thing that is important is that you only listen to music without vocals, as these might distract your thoughts too much. Jazz, classical music or even orchestral movie soundtracks are fantastic for this purpose. Just as a side note: I highly recommend you the soundtrack of
The Book of Eli (2010)
The Matrix (1999)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Have a to-do-list
Having a to-do-list can really work wonders for me, as it easily allows me to switch to another project that isn’t finished yet, or to start a completely new project that was on my to-do-list. Whenever I have an idea – not matter how unevolved – I write it down on a post-it, a small piece of paper or into my mobile phone just to let it become a part of my to-do-list. If I find the idea useful in the later on I start to evolve it and let it become a whole project, otherwise I cross it out of my to-do-list.
How does a to-do-list help me with overcoming my writer’s block? A to-do-list allows you to continue working on another project but it can also be a help whenever you do not know what to write next.
Enhance your creativity
I already mentioned that one of the reasons for the writer’s block can be a temporary lack of creativity, but I really want to emphasize the importance of knowing how to stimulate and enhance your creativity in various situations. Unfortunately, all the different ways that help you to improve your creativity when facing a writer’s block would go beyond the scope of this article, which is why I recommend you to have a look at the following articles:
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