Overcoming Writer's Block

It’s a sunny, cold day. You put on your slippers (or houseshoes, depending on where you’re from). You sleepily go start a pot of coffee and wake up your laptop. Open the cupboard. Close the cupboard. Open the fridge. Close the fridge. What do I want to eat? You make some toast with peanut butter and cinnamon sugar, fill up your giant coffee mug, and go sit at your desk – ready to work. 

You open a new, fresh document. And… NOTHING. It’s like when you try to scream in a dream and nothing comes out. It’s like when you open a bag of chips and realize it’s less than halfway full. You start feeling frenetic energy filling your body. Restless. Frantic. You open a new tab and type in “writing prompts.” Then close it because nothing stands out to you and you don’t want to get distracted. But the blinking line on the document is flashing… mocking you… Can you HEAR it blinking? Each flash is a reminder that you’re on a deadline.

What are some ways we can move past writer’s block and create amazing scripts, scenarios, blogs, and more? Here are some things that I do when I can’t move forward.

1. Move

A great way to re-focus is to do some physical movement. What is your movement of choice? Cardio? Yoga? Lifting weights? Going for a walk? Run? Bike ride? Maybe you hate moving or you are limited in movement (I am!). So my favorite movement? Dance party! You can do a sitting dance party, a standing dance party, or you can go all out, put on your favorite shoes and give it your all. 

Moving takes your mind off of the writer’s block. Physical activity can help you learn, problem-solve, and retain information better! It can also reduce anxiety and help with emotional health – which becomes a struggle when you’re under a deadline and can’t write! So, instead of spending 15 minutes staring at a blank screen, put on your favorite playlist or your favorite running shoes, and GO! Oh, and I made this Spotify playlist for you (using the cleanest possible versions of some of my favorite songs to move to). 

2. Media

Consuming other kinds of media has often helped me to get new ideas and bring me back from the brink of writer’s block. Sometimes reading makes me more frustrated – it can remind me of how brilliantly people can combine their words and how unsuccessful I’ve just been at trying the same thing. So, don’t be afraid to branch out to other kinds of media - it can still help! 

Sometimes I listen to a good podcast - and comment out loud what I think about the conversation. Those comments help me to generate ideas. Other times, I’ll put on my favorite mindless TV show and allow myself to get sucked in – the complete brain break is sometimes enough to wake my brain up and get it back to creation mode. Other times I open social media and consume all the randomness – there’s so much of it – how can you not get ideas from that? And one last media pro tip – sometimes I watch other people create – Bob Ross, my favorite crafters, chefs on YouTube, musicians on TikTok. Watching people create inspires the creator in me and makes it easier for me to tap into that. 

3. Meditate

I’ve always said I’m terrible at meditating. But that was when I had a really narrow-minded view of what meditation is. I thought that it meant sitting perfectly still and thinking about nothing for as long as possible. If you have a mind like a hamster in a wheel like I do – this idea seems completely unattainable, but then I shifted my perspective. Meditation is really about focusing on the moment, not necessarily thinking about nothing but letting your thoughts come and then acknowledging them and letting them go. It turns out, with a little help, I’m actually okay at it!

Whatever meditation looks like for you – it could be helpful. For me, it’s finding a dark space and using the Lumenate app (BIG warning for those who are sensitive to flashing lights – this will NOT be for you). But for you, it might be finding a good sound bath on YouTube, downloading a free guided meditation app for your phone, or even finding a guided meditation podcast episode. Find that space to clear your mind and see if it helps you refocus. 

In closing, I just want to say that all of this works for me, but what works for you might be different. How do I know it works for me? This article was a product of writer’s block. I did all of these things – although not in this order – before coming back and knowing what I just HAD to write about.

References

CDC. Physical Activity Boosts Brain Health. Accessed January 24, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/physical-activity-brain-health/index.html

Thumbnail photo by Tim Gouw

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