Writer’s block is like the sensation of sleep paralysis, convinced that you’re awake, yet you physically cannot wake up. Plain creepy and awfully weird. Writer’s block is terrifying, especially seeing as you’re likely to be writing to a deadline. I cannot really tell you how to banish it because I don’t know how! All I know is that it visits me all too often and I have tried and tested numerous ways of coercing it to make a swift exit. I have put together some of my best tips, and I hope that if you suffer from this numbing bee sting that you find this short list useful.
- Keep Calm and Carry on Writing. When writer’s block strikes by all means take a short break. Do something you find relaxing, take a short walk, listen to music, or (my favourite) do some breathing exercises, but do not abandon your work entirely. This is the worst thing to do. I cannot help but think that writer’s block could be re-worded as ‘fear’. More than half of the times I have experienced it I couldn’t write because I was scared. My head was blocked by hundreds of ‘what ifs?’ What if this is terrible? What if no one likes my work? What if I’m just not a good writer? What if this never goes away? Whenever I have experienced writer’s block these are the questions I have turned over and over in my mind. The problem was essentially just a wave of fear which was eroding all of the creative ideas and plans in my mind. On the basis that writers block is nothing but fear, I figure the best way to try to relieve it is to face it. Take the old ‘face your fear head on’ advice and put your pen to paper. Such simple, yet such difficult advice I know. Your creative ideas and your confidence need to outshine and blind every niggling ‘what if’. This is rare fight, because it has to be won verbally.
- Be the reader. Just write, no matter how ugly it gets. Remember the only person that has to read this at the moment is, well, you! You are alone and that means you are in complete control.Not only do I think that this time can make you feel as though you were not invisible but in a room full of people painfully visible and plain ignored. I think it’s really easy to let anxieties jade the simple fact that no one else is involved in your writing and that being alone is what you need. You need to spend time accepting this blockade of anxieties in order to understand the root of the problem. The critics, the publisher, the potential reader are all fictional. Yes, they matter, and of course someone will have to judge and recognise your writing for it to go anywhere public. However, right now it is just you and your pages (or page) and fear needn’t let you forget how much power you have. For this time let yourself be the reader that loves how you write, heck, let yourself be the reader that is obsessed with your work and absolutely loves it! See your work through the eyes of someone who admires it, it will banish the anxieties that are lowering your confidence.
- Summon some support. If I had to select just one tip that I thought really worked well, and that wasn’t just me rambling on about loving yourself in order to ‘banish Mr Writer’s Block and his brother Mr Fear..’ it is to summon some support from all the writers who have ever inspired you. When I’m at crisis point and the words just aren’t coming out, it really helps me to take half an hour out and switch writing for reading. I surround myself with all of the work that I have every admired. The books on my shelf that I am quite literally in love with. I summon support from my favourite writers by reading and re-reading their work. In doing so I stop to remind myself what amazing writing sounds like. It’s like I hear their voice demanding me to write like I know I can. To do the thing that they first inspired me to try. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that whenever I read my favourite authors it’s not long before my fingers are burning to write something!
Writers block is certainly debilitating. If approached the wrong way, for instance, by abandoning your work for days, you can easily feed it and it will grow stronger. You do not want to let it grow beyond your control. Remember writer’s block is only ever temporary. You are not a bad writer, and you are not the only writer to experience these fears and anxieties. With persistence and pride you will be back to being the enthusiastic word loving nerd that I know you all are!