5 ways to overcome writer’s block – really? Any of these words sound familiar?
Nothing there …
Maybe not all the time, but sometimes as a writer, I struggle to overcome writer’s block.
Words fail me, what I try to write comes out dull and boring. They do not make sense to me, and I’m sure that my readers are wondering what is happening as well.
Late at night my mind would come alive with voices and stories and friends as dear to me as any in the real world. I gave myself up to it, longing for transformation. ~ Jo Marsh, Little Women.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott over 100 years ago; her book was somewhat similar to an autobiography. Her writing was not from formal training but primarily done by her father and his friends — who were Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller.
The lesson from Little Woman is this: Jo Marsh, the main character in the book, did what not many other women dared to do. She dared to be herself and writer. She wrote her way and with her passion and voice.
As a writer myself, I see the hardships and struggles she faced. Jo Marsh wanted to write about daring adventures, but no publisher would touch that. She had to find her voice in what people would want to read. Just like her, I cannot write whatever I want and expect to get a paycheck for it; a balance has to be found.
1. Write around your schedule
In Little Woman, we see that Jo is not a morning person. She likes to write at night, at the end of her day. Just because everyone else writes first thing every morning, does not mean you have to do this. Overcoming writer’s block means you may need to do things at unusual times
Maybe you have to wake up at 5 a.m. to write or wait until you’ve had a few cups of coffee. All people work differently. I have found that morning times are good to write for work, but for fun writing, I like to write in the evening.
2. Release the bad energy to focus on what must get done
I have realized that sometimes the words in my head are not fit to be said, and silence is a better option. Sure, I can write in my journal and explode the words in there, but that does not help me when I have an impending deadline for writing.
When we feel that our mind is elsewhere or very upset, sometimes it is helpful to write out in a journal what you are feeling. This way the bad emotion can be expressed, and you can get back to work. Our minds work better when they are focused on one thing at a time.
It’s not enough to close down and refuse to share with others when we have had a bad day or received some harsh feedback; the cold-shoulder treatment hurts us and our family and friends simultaneously. I how Brené Brown talks about this
The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. Brené Brown, Rising Strong
As we can allow your fingers to release the emotion in a journal, we can find healing and courage to move through difficult times and overcome what is slowing us down.
3. Play your favorite tune
Where words fail, music speaks. Hans Christian Anderson
Do you have a playlist for that? Umm, well, yes I do. For my varying moods and writings, I find it helpful to have music that corresponds with what is going on. Your style of music can be different, but just like writing, is an expression of mood. To write from the heart, the right playlist can enlist the heart and open it up.
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. Victor Hugo
4. You becomes We
For every finger you point out and tell others what to do, there are three fingers others pointing back at you. Good writers incorporate the pronoun “we” and “our” into their writing versus you and your. This comradery shows our readers that we are involved in the writing process too.
Is this always possible? No. Editors want to see certain styles of writing, and professional writing doesn’t always lend itself to more personalized pronouns. But as much as you can, show others your mortality and heart. The words we write reflect who we really are.
5. Do I see Me?
Every word, whether you realize it or not, is a glimpse of who you are. Who I am. Who I share with others that I am.
It is easy when writing to be perfect, a know-it-all. But the mirror of life tells a different story. Until I can see myself in writing, I know that it is fake. My true readers know that I’m writing from a place of dominating power instead from the heart.
This is a betrayal of who we are, and when we write like this, it can sound like a drill sergeant.
Mike Stevenson summed it up best when he said,
“I want to make my writing become a beacon of myself. If it doesn’t reflect how I feel, or my mood and/or opinion about something, I often think it was a pointless activity.”
So the next time that we sit down to write, let’s choose the right place, the music, the mood, and remember to keep a true representation of ourselves in our writing. Overcome the temptation to be someone else. Our readers want to see truth and hope. They don’t want another bossy listicle of how they can mirror your so-called perfect life; they want reality and the belief that it is possible for them.
And when you have found this, my friend, you have found the best time to write.