How I Battle My Way Through A Writer’s Block
Two weeks back I was at the peak of my motivation.
I worked extra hard, toiling away every night after wrapping up my regular 12 hours of office work. The weekends were also super constructive. I was able to churn out at least 2 1000-word blog posts per day.
When I was not writing, I was spending time researching, reading and learning all the different ways I can monetize my website, build my brand and kick-start my online freelance career.
I was a live wire crackling with enthusiasm and motivation.
Supercharged to turn my life around and build up my writing career.
But something happened over the course of last week.
My energy plummeted, I started feeling tired and I lost my focus.
It was almost as if someone had disconnected the power supply and the live wire had gone all limp!
The worst part of this phase was my inability to write a new post.
Try as hard as I reminded myself of the need to keep writing, I found myself going out for long drives or chilling out with Netflix and red wine instead of sitting down to actually write.
And when I did force myself to sit down to write, my mind felt like an empty canvas. No thoughts stirred the ripple less waters of the ocean of my mind and the words were all stuck somewhere deep inside like constipated faeces.
I haplessly kept clacking away at my laptop keyboard hoping to create some nutritious food for thought for my readers. But alas! My mind just won’t work. It was on a full-blown strike!
I had been hit with the dreaded yet all too common Writer’s Block!
I felt so paralyzed inside I thought of giving up.
And so, I watched the days pass by without writing a single new blog post (well technically this one today came after days of not writing a single word and after hours of staring at the blank wall behind my laptop!)
With not much fruitful about to be delivered today, I might as well ruminate on some of the reasons that I think I get a writer’s block for:
Anxiety & stress
Feeling too ambitious or creating deadlines can make me suffer an instant blockage. I guess that has to do with the fact that writing is a creative process. As with all creative endeavours, the best results are often obtained spontaneously. And probably nothing kills spontaneity more than anxiety.
Too Much Self Doubt
We get too conscious about our work and therefore too picky about the topic
I have been pondering too much about what to write on for the last several days. Would it be women’s issues, would it be related to freelancing or shall it be something related to lifestyle?
Every time something comes to mind and I decide to sit down and write on it, I think up of 5 different reasons why it may not be the best topic to write on. And then I keep thinking of something else and this goes on in endless loop
Finally, I thought to ditch all that, power up my laptop, open Word Doc and just start typing the first thing that comes to mind.
Well that’s how this article was born.
Obsession with Vocabs
Ever obsessed over the exact word or phrase to describe something while writing?
It happens to me all too often.
Repeatedly I find myself caught up in situations (happened just now as I was trying to come up with a better word than situation) where the right words keep playing peek-a-boo!
I can almost see them or feel them, but don’t quite have them at my fingertips.
This invariably leads to massive time loss as I keep typing and deleting to type again the same sentence over and over in 10 different ways hoping to come up with the perfect words.
The end results?
After struggling for 40 minutes, I decide it's not worth it after all and shut down my laptop.
Burnout from overworking
Too much work can lead to burnout, which leads to a lack of productivity.
After doing my office work for 12–13 hours every day, I often struggle to come up with words when I do finally get some time to sit down and write.
My mind is so strained and exhausted from the day’s work that it leads to very mechanized writing. Something that I simply hate!
I believe, just like a lactating mother needs to keep herself hydrated by drinking sufficient fluid in order to provide ample milk for her newborn, so a writer needs to be reading a sufficient amount of good literary work in order to deliver quality writing.
I have seen this happen all the time with me.
While I started out in my childhood, being an avid reader, this habit gradually reduced with age.
And by the time I started working, my reading habits became almost nil.
One prime reason could be the unending pressure at work and the constant state of anxiety in the mind (again generated from work ☹).
Here are a few tried and tested stuff that helps me usually :
Notwithstanding ten million articles in google on ’10 ways to get out of a writer’s block’, I do feel that this phase is pretty much like a bad bout of cold. No matter how many pills you pop, the virus would leave you only once it's done running its usual course.
Having said that though, I will jot down a few stuff that has helped me to some extent tide over such blockades in the past.
More like having a cup of hot ginger tea to help ease your sore throat. While that itself won’t cure your cold, but it certainly helps move things along.
Sit Down & Start Writing
Just about anything.
Doesn’t matter what!
Fire up your laptop, open Word Doc and type out the first word that comes to you.
Doesn’t have to be fitting a specific niche, topic or idea.
It can be absolutely anything under the Sun that your mind can think of.
For once, lose the reigns over your mind and let it breathe!
Retreat with an imaginary glass of martini, and watch your mind play itself out, however it pleases, on the word doc in front of you!
Sip on a Glass of Red Wine
While my intention is definitely not to promote alcohol addiction, my personal observation has been that I write my best when I am slightly inebriated.
Long gone are the days of early youth when I would hang out with friends at pubs once every month guzzling mugs of beer and chugging Old Monks and then coming home completely sloshed.
I absolutely hate the very idea of that now.
Nowadays, I use mild alcohol to rewind and relax after days of stressing over office work.
So you would catch me sipping on some red wine or a glass of Breezer every other week, usually over the weekends.
That’s also when I feel like sitting down to write.
The words flow out effortlessly.
I guess the main reason would be mental relaxation.
Quit Obsessing and Learn to Move On
When I get stuck on a word, I simply type a blank or use the first word that comes to mind and move on to finish the rest of the sentence or the para.
While doing this, you will save time and end up actually completing your article
When I reread it later, often the right words immediately jump at me and I quickly replace the earlier generic word with this new one. Else I find out a better way to phrase the line.
Whatever it is, I usually almost always come up with a better version of the original writing.
This helps me finish my writing on time without bargaining with the quality.