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If you write regularly as part of your work, school, or as a hobby, you’re probably all too familiar with writer’s block—the excruciating feeling of being stuck and unable to get your words out. The good news is, there are strategies you can use to cure and prevent writer’s block. Let’s go over a few practical ways to get out of a creative rut and keep the words flowing.
Writer’s block is the inability to keep working on a writing project or start a new one. If you ever find yourself stuck or feeling like you have no new ideas, you’re likely experiencing writer’s block.
Is It Real?
Writer’s block is absolutely real. Every writer faces writer’s block at some point in their life, even the most experienced and accomplished writers!
Writer’s Block Causes
The causes of writer’s block differ from person to person, but they can usually be boiled down to self-doubt or perfectionism.
Like many creative people, writers tend to get self-conscious about their work, criticize themselves too harshly, compare themselves to others, and worry about how their work will be judged.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on oneself! If the goal is to write something perfect, where do you even start?
If you’re looking for writer’s block help, there are proven techniques you can use to get the creative juices flowing.
The key to overcoming writer’s block is to, well, write. Whether you’re trying to come with a new idea or finish an existing project, the below prompts and exercises can help ignite that spark.
We often experience writer’s block when we either have too many ideas or none at all. Both can be fixed by giving yourself specific constraints in the form of a writing prompt. There are countless writing prompts available online, but here are just a few you could try:
- Write something inspired by the last photo in your phone’s camera roll.
- Draft something inspired by the lyrics of the last song you listened to.
- Write a letter to your 10-year-old self and/or your 90-year-old self.
- Describe your day if you lived in a world without electricity.
- Describe your day if you had won the lottery.
Writer’s Block Exercises
If you’re having trouble finishing an existing project, try one of these exercises:
- Write With a Timer
Eliminate all distractions, set a timer for 30 minutes, and don’t let yourself do anything else other than write. When the only alternative is to stare into space, you’ll probably find yourself writing something just to keep from getting bored.
- Write Poorly on Purpose
Chances are, you’re feeling blocked because you’re pressuring yourself to write something perfect. What if you could remove that pressure entirely? Try letting go of all standards and writing poorly on purpose—you can always come back and fix it up later, but doing this will give you a much-needed jump-start.
- Free Write
It can also be helpful to step away from your project and spend some time writing something—anything—else. Try setting a timer for 10 minutes and free writing—writing without stopping. It doesn’t matter what you write about—just the act of writing will help kick your brain into gear. You may even discover a new idea or the solution to a problem you were facing!
The above strategies are great for curing writer’s block in a pinch, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could minimize how often you experience writer’s block in the first place. Well, you can!
Prevent a creative block by adopting the following healthy writing habits:
Stick to a Writing Schedule
Try writing every day until it becomes a habit—practice at the same time of day, for the same length of time, and in the same place. Consider creating a ritual around your writing practice that includes your favorite hot beverage, scented candle, lighting, or music—which will help your brain switch to focus mode when it’s time to work.
Start With Outlines and Drafts
If you haven’t already, normalize the idea that your writing could require multiple rounds of edits. This relieves the pressure to write something perfect right from the get-go.
If you ever find yourself stuck because you don’t know where your story or train of thought should go next, consider starting each project with an outline. This not only provides a roadmap for you to follow but also gives you the freedom to write out of order—if you feel stuck in one section, you can skip it and come back to it later.
Fill Your Cup
Our creativity is fueled by the world around us, so it’s important to keep yourself inspired. Take a break from creating, and spend some time consuming, instead. This can mean reading a book, watching a movie, going to a museum, or going on a walk with a friend. You don’t even have to actively search for new ideas while engaging in these activities—your subconscious mind will do that for you!
If you’re a songwriter, composer, or producer, you know all too well that music writers are not immune to writer’s block. Luckily, the strategies you can use to cure and prevent music writer’s block are very similar to the ones we’ve already discussed.
How to Cure It
First of all, remember that your songs can have multiple drafts, and the first draft can be far from your best work. Better yet, try writing a bad song on purpose and see where that takes you.
Next, try any of the following strategies:
- Listen to other songs for inspiration.
- Challenge yourself to write a full song in 30 minutes.
- Set a timer and improvise until the timer is up.
- Try writing a response to one of your favorite songs.
- Try writing a song without any rhymes.
How to Prevent It
The best way to prevent a musician’s block is to turn writing music into a habit. Just like prose writers, music writers can benefit from creating a schedule and a ritual around their work. Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, make it easy to write music every day by leaving your instruments in an accessible place and all your tools plugged in.
No matter what kind of writing you do, experiencing writer’s block is completely normal, but it doesn’t have to last long. Use these strategies next time you’re feeling stuck and you’ll be back on track in no time.
Prevent Writer’s Block—Make it a Habit!
The Writer’s Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit