Thursday, August 10, 2017

8 Things I Do to Overcome Writer's Block

8 things I do to beat writer's block and start writing again! 8 Things I Do to Overcome Writer's Block - A Simpler Grace

Writer's block... That dreaded phrase. Kurt Vonnegut put it best when he said, "Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?" If you are a writer, whether creative or literary, you've likely experienced this condition. I know I have many times and it's never any fun but there are some things you can do to reign your brain back in. Keep reading to see the eight steps I take to beat the block and get back to my writing.

First of all, before you read another word, take a deep breath. If you are suffering from writer's block, remind yourself that you are not broken. This is only temporary and it will soon pass. Too often, we expect to sit down and write out a piece deserving of a Pulitzer in the first draft and that never happens. Give yourself a little grace and the allowance to write something bad. Great written works are created through many drafts and edits. Don't expect to be the exception.

If your block is just that you can't get the words you want to say onto paper or organize them once they are there, sit down and make an outline. This is where you jot down all the ideas you have and the points you want to make so you can organize them into cohesive sections and plot out your full piece. I learned how to make outlines in junior high when I started writing term papers and they have been one of my best tricks to getting writing projects done.

Occasionally, I will lose my "voice" in a piece I'm working on and one of the best ways I've found to get my voice back is to read some of my old writing. I have a list of my favorite posts and some of my most popular posts in which I share my true voice and I reread them for inspiration. After going through a few of these posts, I find that I am able to write from the heart.

Although I'm not new to the podcast world, I recently began listening to them with more frequency and I've been so inspired by the ones I'm subscribed to. When I am suffering from writer's block, I can listen to a couple podcasts and scribble down some notes to get my gears moving again.

I don't know about you but I have a few bloggers and authors I can always count on to give me a little motivation boost. It might be a collection of short stories or blog posts or magazine articles, but I know that once I dig into some writing by my favorite people, I will be ready to sit down and get to work.

Some days, I can not get the words on paper, no matter how hard I try. On those days, I distract myself completely by veering off course and working on something else. For me, art does the trick. I pull out my paints and canvases and let the creative side of my brain take over for a little while. This change of pace always helps relax me and I can usually return to writing soon after.

» Related article: Finding Your Creative Passions

One of Stephen King's rules for writers is that reading is just as important as writing. Consuming books broadens your spectrum and encourages you to think in new and different ways. When your mind starts to open up to new content, it tricks the "muscle memory" of your brain and keeps you fresh and ready to create.

Sometimes my mind gets so overwhelmed with all these new ideas, that it works as reverse writer's block. My brain will become congested with words and I need a place to dump all these things where they will stay safe until I'm ready to use them but won't continue to clog up my focus. I keep a little notebook next to my laptop and have made a practice of setting a timer for three minutes and writing down every little thing that comes to mind, no matter how ridiculous. I unload my brain so I can concentrate on the task at hand, then return to my journal at a later time to make sense of the notes I've made.

Sometimes my writer's block doesn't come from a cluttered mind. Sometimes it comes from my own self-doubt. We all go through imposter syndrome and there have been so many times I've stared at my laptop screen and called myself a fraud. Self-doubt can be debilitating, especially when you are up against a deadline. I have a few friends, some who are writers and others who are not, that I can go to for reassurance. They read my work and give me honest feedback. They tell me if I'm on the right track or not and they encourage me in my work. A little reassurance does wonders for writer's block!

What are some of your secrets for overcoming writer's block?

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  1. Writer's block is the worst.
    I love that my blog doesn't have a niche - that way whatever brain dump I have, I can just dump it there :) No pressure.
    These are great tips. I find too that writing things daily helps. Even if it's just a gratitude journal - really keeps the juices flowing. Also writing while music is playing.

  2. These are great tips! I'm in a rare, inspired place right now. But normally, I get writer's block something awful and I like to read or listen to music because sometimes a word here or a phrase there will stick in my mind and inspire me. :)

  3. Penny @ pennyspassion.blogspotAugust 10, 2017 at 12:17 PM

    I like the idea of keeping a brain dump journal. So often I'm trying to remember that great I idea I had!

  4. I love these tips... all of them basically say "look around and get inspired and writer's block will go away"... and that is usually the case.

    I keep an ongoing draft file on Google Drive that I can access from everywhere and whenever I have a thought or idea I want to write about, I jot it down... so I usually have a page full of ideas to jumpstart my brain when I get stuck! :)

  5. These are such awesome tips. I often find that by reading, I'm able to be reinspired. Once I get a few lines or a paragraph done, I'm golden - it's just the starting sometimes. And music helps, too!

  6. These are great tips! I often find myself staring at freelance articles like "uhhhhh...WHAT ARE WORDS?!" just because I need help getting started, so I go to the main site and skim a few of the articles on the site just to get some ideas, then I set a timer for an hour, put my phone on "do not disturb," close social media, and just write. Usually I can get a lot of it written in that time and then after a short break to refill my water bottle or coffee mug, I just want to get right back to what I was working on because I know I'm so close to it being finished.

  7. These are great tips. I mostly write about my son and what is going on in my day to day life but I would love to be more creative with what I write.

  8. These are all wonderful tips! I do think reading is always a good idea - and I like talking it out with friends too.


  9. Yes, gratitude journaling has done wonders for me as well!

  10. Same here! I think I have tucked it away some place in my mind where I won't forget about it then, whoosh, it's gone. Having a brain dump journal has been life changing!

  11. A google doc is a great idea for potential blog posts! I like that it can be accessed from anywhere too.

  12. Reading does so many good things for me too! And I love writing while listening to music!

  13. Yes! Writer's block can be worse when you have a deadline looming. Sounds like you have a good routine set. I like the idea of turning off social media. I just recently heard about an app called Forest, that locks your apps down for a period of time to allow you to work and if you complete that time, it plants a tree for you. Kind of like the Plant Nanny. :)

  14. You should try some creative writing! It's always good to branch out a little but I do love reading your posts about life and your son. He's such a cutie! :)

  15. It's always good to have some friends who will give you honest feedback. :)

  16. I would love to take a writing class or something like that. I read all the PP posts and I am evious of all of your writing skills. I am learning a lot.

  17. The notes section in my iPad has become my brain dump space. It is filled with rambling, half written posts. I think I need to start revisiting them.

    Thanks for sharing these great tips :)

  18. Writing classes do help sharpen your skills. You could search online for free writing classes. I've taken a lot of them!

  19. The notes in my iPhone are the same way! I have lists of things I want to write!

  20. Brooke @ wreckingroutineAugust 13, 2017 at 6:56 PM

    I LOVE podcasts for inspiration. There are so many good ones and with such variety out there.

  21. Me too! Thanks for stopping by to read, Brooke. :)