Every writer, from journalism degree students to experienced novelists, understands the challenge known as writer's block. After days of turning out winning website copy or prize-worthy journalism, a wall appears seemingly out of nowhere. The writer sits and stares at a blank screen or empty sheets of paper. Poised but unable to express coherent thoughts, the writer starts to panic in the face of a looming deadline. While inconvenient, this challenge is temporary and reversible. With a few tricks, any writer can combat writer’s block and return to the land of plentiful words appearing on the screen or the page. Here are five great ways to combat writer's block:
Switch the Medium
Sometimes a simple jaunt into the unfamiliar is all a writer needs to restart the productive flow of words. For writers who type, picking up a pencil and a piece of paper might remove the block. Writers who normally use paper can try using a keyboard. According to the Writing Center staff at Amherst College, informal and creative mediums like envelopes, a chalkboard or colored pencils are additional tools that successfully combat writers block.
Play like a Child
Despite deadlines and responsibilities, making time to play stimulates creativity. Blowing bubbles, playing hopscotch or swinging at the park keeps a writer’s body moving and takes his mind off the task. Turning off the pressure to write often releases imaginative juices and gives writers a chance to return to work motivated and refreshed.
Start a Conversation
Instead of conversing with written words, blocked writers find inspiration when they speak words. Talking to a friend or the mail person or reading a completed draft aloud sparks the return of coherent written words. Conversation also removes the pressure to produce perfect sentences and gives writers a chance to relax.
Take a Break
Instead of forcing words onto paper or feeling frustrated with the process, walking away from the desk gives writers a chance to regroup. Walking around the block, washing the dishes or taking a quick nap resets the brain and removes writing hindrances. For writers with chronic blockage, BBC News suggests writers visit Paris where they find inspiration, opportunity and refreshment throughout the city.
Think About Something Else
It’s easy for writers to focus so much on the day’s assigned topic that they forget to think outside the box. Instead, blocked writers find inspiration when they think about:
- How to describe an orange without using color
- The texture of their dream vacation
- The feeling they received after their most recent writing achievement
- The color of happiness, joy, contentment or peace
Exercising imagination often re-energizes the brain and refocuses attention to the current assignment.
Writers block is a real phenomenon that hits every writer eventually. Instead of struggling through it or wasting time staring at the blank page, successful writers find alternative activities. With creativity and action, they remove mental blocks and find the inspiration that produces a flow of words and immense satisfaction.