Overcoming Writer’s Block

Causes, Types, and Solutions to Writer’s Block

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We’ve all been there. It’s Friday at 4 p.m., you need to post one more blog, and you are struggling with producing material. Nearly everyone experiences this dilemma at some point in his or her career. Even some of the world’s most famous authors, including Charles M. Schulz and F. Scott Fitzgerald are known to have suffered from the setback.

There are plenty of causes of writer’s block. Some are creative, such as running out of inspiration or being distracted. Others are because of outside influences such as physical illness, the intimidation to meet previous success, or an ended relationship. Science suggests that writer’s block happens because of a mental shift in which the human brain changes control from the cerebral cortex to the limbic system, which is associated with instinctual processes. It is likened to the “fight or flight” response.

As if the multiple causes aren’t enough, there are also different TYPES of writer’s block. You might have zero ideas or too many ideas! You might have a great outline but no body or be stuck in the middle or at the end of your story. You could have run out of the “right” words, or maybe you just got bored.

The good news is there are some antidotes you can try to get inspired.

  • Take a Walk: I mentioned how many of the great minds of our history made the time to take a walk every day in my Learning from the Masters post on Tuesday. It’s also been scientifically proven to help. People who walk at least 1.5 hours each week show better cognitive development, and walking 18 miles or more each week can reduce memory loss. In general, exercise positively affects the levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain. And while you’re on your walk, you might meet people that can provide inspiration for your next piece.
  • Be Productive: Start with other small tasks to get yourself into the “work flow.” Pay some bills and organize that huge stack of magazines. You might also try sharing previous work on social media to generate feedback and conversation.
  • Writing Exercises: There are plenty of websites on the internet dedicated to writing exercises and prompts. I’m a big fan of Practical Creative Writing by Grace Jolliffe. You could also write down some random ideas or sentences and then develop them. You could listen to some music or view some art for inspiration. Another ideas is to eavesdrop or observe people, write down what they do, and then turn the situation into a story.
  • Think Outside the Box: Choose a subject that you know nothing about and research it. Then, relate to the subject and write about it.
  • Other: Use Google Analytics or Google Trends to find some interesting keywords. Write about something simple like a profile or biography about yourself. Think like your customers and write about what they might want to know.

For even more information on writing or blogging and writer’s block, check out my digital marketing training session from this month – Introduction to Blogging.

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