How to Get Over Writer’s Block

Originally published by Shelf Magazine on 27/02/2016 here, then republished by Loe&Behold on 19/05/2016 here.

Before you start reading this article, I should mention that I had Writer’s Block while writing it.

It happens to almost everyone in the creative industries, whether you’re a writer or not. There are artists who can’t paint anything, actors who cannot get into specific characters, writers can’t make words into coherent sentences. An article on theconversation.com analyses the reasons behind writer’s block, calling it a ‘“creation block” – the inability to make the connections and the plans that allow creative writing to occur.

I say this affects most people; if this doesn’t happen to you, enjoy your many successful projects and let the rest of us suffer in peace.

I am going to list a couple of things that usually work for me and some of my creatively-orientated friends.

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Eliza Burmistre

First thing you should do is get away from the computer. If you’ve been staring at a blank word document for hours, close it down, turn off the computer, leave the room if you have to. If you can, take a walk outside. The fresh air and change in scenery might help clear your mind and maybe even inspire you. It helps if there is a bench, or even a rock, to sit on for a little while.

If you’re having trouble getting inspired, you could go to a café, bus stop or otherwise public place where people gather for an extended period of time. You can subtly eavesdrop and that could give you a prompt for a plot you could start writing. Plus, you can use that as an opportunity to treat yourself to a large hot chocolate with a mountain of whipped cream, simply because you’re working hard and you’re worth it.

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Eliza Burmistre

You could also be like me, someone who likes writing alone and who doesn’t want to leave their cosy writing nest. What you could do in this case, and it’s not exclusive to people who like staying at home, is have a wander through Wikipedia. Or if you learn visually, try watching documentaries (Netflix have plenty!), Ted Talks or Youtube.  Start on something you are quite knowledgeable about and then click on the first link to a topic you don’t know much about. Then do that about ten times. By that point you should have learned something new and it could have sparked a topic that you couldn’t imagine wanting to cover previously. Now, with all this research that you’ve done, you can at least attempt it and see if you want to pursue it further.

And if none of these tips work for you, then the last ditch effort is going on Tumblr/Twitter/Instagram/Imgur/any other meme-sharing website and scrolling for hours to try to get inspired. Sometimes that works better than everything else.

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