5 Tips to Beat Writer’s Block and Find the Joy in Writing Again
I think as writers, we’ve all been there. We’ve all hit that burnout phase, better and more horrifically known as Writer’s Block. It’s the bane of every writer’s existence. We strive to make art…and then, one day, for no reason at all, we can’t make anymore. Maybe it lasts for a day, maybe it lasts for a month. Maybe it lasts for a year. But for however long it lasts, to not be able to do the thing we were meant to do is absolutely soul-crushing.
How do we beat it? How do we refuse to let it get the best of us?
Here, I offer 5 tips that have proven effective for me in cases of mild to severe writer’s block. I hope they help anyone dealing with it, too.
Tip 1: TAKE A BREAK.
Now, this seems like a “No sh*t, Sherlock” statement. Isn’t writer’s block essentially a FORCED break? Yes and no. Reframe the block in your mind. It’s not that you cannot create. It’s just that your mind is telling you it’s tired. It needs rest. If you have the urge to write, but are having trouble focusing, and you spend your designated writing time staring at that little blinking cursor on your screen, that could be your mind begging you to give it some reprieve. So, what do you do? You draw a big X through the production day on your calendar, and you take a break. For the whole day. No writing. What to do instead? Read a book you’ve been dying to start. Read a magazine with a glass of wine or maybe some coffee or even a refreshing cup of tea. Take the furbabies for a walk. Relax in the bathtub, then put on some movies, or catch up on that new Netflix show that’s been on your radar. No matter what you choose, make it relaxing and soothing to your mind with as low cognitive load as possible. If the next day you’re still having trouble focusing, repeat until you feel refreshed to start writing again.
Tip 2: EXERCISE.
Sometimes, we spend hours at our computer, trying to pound out the words to meet deadlines and stay on track. We’re demanding a lot from our bodies by being sedentary for such long periods. Exercise is a wonderful thing. Not only is it good for our bodies, but it’s good for our minds too. Whatever exercise looks like for you—whether that’s a fifteen-minute stroll with your dog or on the treadmill, dancing for twenty minutes in your bedroom, running a couple miles, or a grueling, hour-long MMA workout or weight-lifting session, make it a regular part of your week. Start with one or two days a week, then work up to four or five. You might be surprised at the mental clarity you have each day when you return to your computer. Want bonus points? Every hour, get up and stretch and move your legs a little around the house. Or, every thousand words, do ten jumping jacks or crunches. Make sure you’re giving back to your body so it continues to fuel your mind.
Tip 3: SLEEP.
This might seem counterproductive, but sometimes, sleep is the very best thing you can give your body and your mind. Did you know that the vast majority of Americans are chronically sleep-deprived? You’ve heard that statistic a thousand times—we’re supposed to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Raise your hand if you hardly ever hit this range. I know my hand is up. But I’ve discovered from serious firsthand experience what a chronic lack of sleep does to me, and it’s not pretty. Like exercise, this is a habit that needs time to build up. Start shooting for one extra hour from where you currently are. If you get four hours a night now, go to bed one hour earlier, no excuses. Build from there until you hit 7 hours. Then shoot for eight. Then shoot for nine, just to finetune the right number of hours for you. And no, lying in bed scrolling Facebook or playing games for an hour before bed is NOT sleeping.
Tip 4: DRINK WATER.
Yeah, this one will send you running to the bathroom every hour, but hey! In Tip 2, I told you to move your legs every hour, right? Like sleep, most people are chronically dehydrated. This affects in a number of really awful ways, from our mood to the way our organs function to our skin and hair. Earlier this year, I made a conscious decision and effort to drink a minimum of 75 ounces of water a day. A gallon is better. This sounds like a lot of water, and it is. But you know what? In days of practicing this, I noticed some crazy things. My skin, suffering from hormonal acne breakouts for the better part of a year, started to clear. My hair, which had been thinning and brittle, started to become a little more lush and then, after a while, it grew like crazy. I had more energy, I had better mental focus, and my mood even stabilized. Water is a beautiful thing, and our bodies NEED IT TO THRIVE. So drink up!
Tip 5: CLEAR THE COBWEBS.
Sometimes our brains become like attics, where dust and debris and other crap just builds up until there’s no more room for anything else—like the effort we want to put forth in our WIP. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to write—we just can’t write the current project we’re working on. So, just for a day or two, or even an hour here and there where you need it, clear out the mental attic. Freewrite for a while, even if it’s nonsense. Work on that short story you’ve had on your mind that’s totally different from your WIP. Write a blog post. Write a poem. Outline another novel you’ve had bouncing around in your mind. Flex those creative muscles in a different way and sweep the cobwebs out, then go back to your WIP with a fresh, clean space in your mental attic.
I hope these tips help!
For more information like this, or if you just wanna chat, please drop me a line at mazzyking.com or visit me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter at @mazzykingwrites.