If you write for a living or a hobby, you have likely faced the illusive writer’s block. Staring at an empty Word document, you desperately sift through your empty head searching for a formation of meaningful words. After several attempts, your only accomplishment is the record for highest number of backspaces.
You are not alone; every writer has been there. While there is still no known medical cure for writer’s block, remedies exist to help ease your frustration and help you break through the mental barrier.
Exercise is one of the best ways to lift your brain out of a rut. Not only does exercise improve your health, it also clears your head. Aerobic activity gets your blood flowing throughout your body and brain. Studies show that this blood flow changes the structure of your brain, creating new brain cells and improving concentration. After a short run, bike ride or walk, your creative juices flow much more freely.
If you do not need to complete your writing assignment right away, sometimes it is best to take a break and fulfill other responsibilities. Whether you have to clean your room, make a phone call or finish other homework, switching your train of thought allows you to rest the part of the brain used for writing and recharges your mental batteries.
If you are on a limited time frame, try working somewhere else. Whether your office is making you antsy or your roommate is blaring the television, changing your surroundings can help you focus and get back on track. Take your writing outside to the front porch, go to the coffee shop or visit your local library. Wherever you choose to go, leave your cell phone at home and keep your web browser closed. Changing locations and eliminating distractions helps you zone in on the task at hand.
According to William Stafford, an American poet, “there is no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” While you probably do not want to write complete junk, sometimes lowering your standards allows you to produce your best material. You cannot take yourself seriously all the time and expect yourself to craft a masterpiece with every word you write. Sometimes you simply need to write whatever comes to your mind. Often, once you get past that initial starting hump, the words begin cascading out like water from a hose. While it is vital to edit and perfect your grammar, you may want to wait until you have finished writing as not to hinder your flow.
If you have ever experienced writer’s block, you know how frustratingly painful it can be. You are not on your own. Writers from across the centuries have spent countless hours drawing blanks, grasping for words in their head. Earnest Hemingway once called “a blank sheet of paper” the scariest thing he ever encountered. By exercising, switching tasks, changing surroundings and even lowering standards, you can conquer that blank screen, or empty sheet of paper, in no time.