Pen in hand, ready to write and then boom! I went blank! I didn’t know how or what to write. From a tender age, I’ve been praised for my writing prowess, penned countless articles and won a couple of accolades at this point;
So, why can’t I write?
Is this a super-power that has finally been taken away from me?
This was my first time experiencing what I later discovered to be known as ‘Writer’s Block’
Writer’s block is a creative enemy faced by virtually all writers regardless of their genre. It can last for days, weeks, and even years!
Before we go into how to conquer writer’s block, let’s take a look what causes it.
Causes of Writer’s Block
Writer’s block can be caused by several factors. Here are a few common ones:
- Fear: Fear of criticisms; is my writing good enough? Will it be acceptable?
- Procrastination: Number one thief of time.
- Perfectionism: Comfort zone; everything has to be just perfect before pen can be put to paper.
- Distractions: Social media, TV, etc
Overcoming Writer’s Block
Basically, every writer has struggled with writer’s block at one point in time. There’s no hard and fast rule to conquering writer’s block. Writing is an art and not a science. There’s no systematic formula to adopt; however, I’ll share a few things that have worked for me thus far.
So, here we go
- Just Write!
Imagine working in a bank and calling your boss to tell him/her that you can’t come to work because you are experiencing ‘work block’.
Philip Pullman, a best-selling author, shows no sympathy for those experiencing writer’s block.
In his words, “All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expect sympathy for it?”
Just write! Whether it feels ‘perfect’ or not, see it as another tough day at the office that can be overcome.
2. Forget about grammar
As crazy as this sounds, our obsession with punctuations and right grammar can sometimes block the flow of our writing. What I do sometimes is, I write the words in raw form, just the way it popped into my head without paying attention to whether the sentences are properly structured or not. When I’m done with the raw output, I start working on the punctuations, grammar structure, paragraphing and so on.
This practice has been so helpful in my writing journey
3. Ask for help
Asking for help in this context does not mean telling someone else to write for you. Talking to your friends about it can help more than you can imagine. It is also important to belong to a writing community (online or offline) where ideas and experiences can be shared. Sometimes, your inability to write may stem from the fact that you haven’t done enough research or heard different perspectives on your proposed topic. In my article Be a Copy Cat, I opined that listening to others speak can trigger an idea which can help you in your project.
4. Utilize your best creative window
There are times where it literally seems you are on fire. Ideas keep popping off. You are on a roll, you feel great and inspired. Take advantage of this period because it doesn’t last forever. Just the same way you save money for the rainy day, also write articles and save for the ‘block day’. This works perfectly for those into content management on blogs and social media pages. For instance, as at the time of writing this blog post, I have over 100 unpublished articles which were written when I was at my best point creatively. After all, my blog needs to keep running whether I experience writer’s block or not.
5. Start from the bottom
Personally, I realised that starting an article from the beginning is always the most difficult part for me. The right words don’t seem to come through. In the same vein, I also realised that more often than not, I tend to have a clear picture of the concluding part of my write-up before I even begin. So, whenever I experience a block, I start from the bottom. Recently, I was tasked with delivering an aviation-related article for a client; I started from the bottom and gradually built it up to the top. At the end of the day, the client was extremely satisfied. This is a trick that works for me all the time.
Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.
READ ALSO: How To Become a Top-Notch Content Writer