Productive Activities and Strategies to Overcome Writer’s Block

“Writer’s block is a phenomenon involving temporary loss of ability to begin or continue writing, usually due to lack of inspiration or creativity. There are alternative actions or specific strategies you can work with to overcome the blank slate in your head.” Wikipedia

All writers deal with writers block. The best activity you should start with is to take a break and relax. There are many things you can do to let your thoughts gather themselves. Did you know that some of the most unrelated activities allow you to start producing meaningful ideas.

Alternative Activities

-Taking a shower or bath or sit in a sauna or hot tub. Psychologists do say water has a mentally cleansing and stimulating quality.

– Give yourself a chance to take a quick nap. The moments during your pre- or post-sleep are great for ideas, thoughts and worries to float around in your head.

-Reading other materials unrelated to what you are working on. Look at pictures in or flip backwards through a magazine. Even one word can spark an idea.

-Take a walk around your neighborhood and watch everything that is going on around you, or cut your grass to get you outside and thinking about something else. This will allow your mind to wander and become creative.

– Take a 30-60 minute drive by yourself (remember to bring paper or a tape recorder, just in case). Getting away and listening to the monotonous sounds of your tires on the pavement kicks in the creativity after 30 minutes.

-Although not planned, or maybe not even tolerated by you, when you wake up in the middle of the night some of your best ideas are wanting to come out. Have paper (and a flashlight) by your bed or sneak to your PC. If you don’t write them down they may keep you up all night.

-The old stand-by that will work over and over again – Take a clean sheet of paper or a blank screen and just start writing. it does not matter what you write, just do not stop for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes read everything you wrote. You either came up with an idea to work with or you were able to get all the extra ‘stuff’ out of your head and can start writing again.

Specific Strategies

-Begin at the end. Wherever you are stuck you know where you wanted to get to. Write the end of that thought, chapter, or dialogue and work you way back.

-Talk the paper. Find someone who is willing to talk to you about the topic you are writing about. This is a more spontaneous way to communicate and you will be less stressed. Your listener can ask questions or interject their thoughts. If you can record the conversation so you don’t have to stop and write something down during the conversation.

-Tape the paper. If there is no one to talk with imagine that there is an audience and tape yourself either reading what you’ve written or ramble on about the topic. Transcribe your session and work with the new ideas you came up with.

-Change the audience. This strategy will help you clarify the purpose of what you are writing. Pretend you need to explain your topic slowly and in great detail to a child or someone new to the topic or debate with someone who strongly disagrees with you and defend your ideas. An entire new set of ideas may come out during this strategy.

-Play a role. See your topic from the point of view of someone from an earlier time period, a President of a company defending your topic, or someone who wants your topic to just go away and you need to tell them why it is important. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and see your topic from a different point of view.

-Stop and do more research. Combat the feeling of not knowing what to say by finding more information about your topic. What are other’s saying about it? Doing research is a great way to gather your thoughts, ideas and may even get you to start writing the entire section, which you were blocked on, from the beginning.

When you find yourself gazing at your PC screen or a sheet of paper and are not writing anything you probably are experiencing writer’s block. You are not alone. It is common to lose focus or be overwhelmed and begin experiencing a creative block. Try these alternative activities and/or strategies for overcoming writer’s block.