A while back I wrote a post on how to cope with writer’s block. Yeah, back in late June. What can I say? I’m a procrastinator, I admit it! But there was no deadline for this, so it’s not so bad, right? Right?! Right.
Here are some simple ways writers can work on unblocking themselves and get writing again:
- Instead of on the computer, write on a typewriter or with a pen/pencil/etc. on paper – even colored paper!
- Write in the bathtub, a coffee shop, library, bookstore, bar, airport, car, parking lot, bus or train station, pharmacy, supermarket, Sharper Image store (and why not go for the massage chair while you’re there?), park, boat, gym, beach, restaurant (perhaps a Denny’s or another spot open 24 hours so you can go whenever), at friend’s or family member’s house, on a rooftop, bridge, etc. — anywhere that might shift your perspective.
- Put music on.
- Write for 30 minutes continuously and without stopping to edit. Just go! Let ideas flow out one after the other.
- Write in slang or another language, use clichés, whatever — let your ideas gush out as they come. Save the editing for later!
- Write drunk. Just kidding.
- Change your argument or point of view (if possible).
- Take an invigorating break: go for a brisk walk, hike, run, ride your bike, play a sport, etc., and use that time to listen to music, clear your mind, or think about anything unrelated to your writing. Take your dog or a human friend!
- Take a relaxing break: go to the beach, take a bath, cook or bake, get some sexy action, watch a movie, whatever you want – and, again, do your best to keep your mind off your writing during this time.
- Read any author or writing style that inspires you, e.g., read poetry even if you have to write an essay.
Got other ideas? Let me know!
By the way, happy spring (or fall)!
All of us writers – whether writing fiction or nonfiction, frequently or not, professionally or for leisure — come across the nefarious and infinitely frustrating phenomenon called writer’s block at some point in our writing adventures. It is ineluctable, at least as far as I know (and if you’ve never suffered from it, please let me know so I can alternately admire and envy you for your phenomenal luck!).
Lucky for us, there are copious methods and tricks we can try to combat a block, monolithic as it may be.
First, a couple of notes: 1) My suggestions may not be enough if you’ve got very little time left to finish your work. 2) None of the links below are affiliate links.
Now, I believe that the very best way to clear your head is by opening it. With an axe. Crack. And then cleaning it out.
However, if you’re not into brain trauma or blood creeps you out, you could try any of the following tactics:
An hour — or just a half hour! Or even 15 minutes! — of yoga. You can access a different, full-length class for free each week at Yoga Today. YT offers anusara, kundalini, ashtanga-vinyasa, and hatha blends (these are different styles of yoga). For a pretty low monthly price you can sign up and access hundreds of full-length classes. You can also find several full-length yoga classes and short sessions for free on YouTube; just look up “Yoga Today.” I highly recommend their work.
Another brilliant set of classes is The Flow Series (Earth, Water, and Fire) by Ganga White and Tracey Rich. These are plain hatha classes and the instructors are serious, not as friendly and goofy as those on YT. It depends on what you like. If you’re new to yoga, you can begin with the Earth video, which is a level one.
If you have never done yoga, I recommend you attend a few classes before you venture out on your own at home. This will help you make sure you don’t injure yourself and are getting the most out of your poses. If you are in a rush, however, an online class will do.
Yoga nidra, also called yogic sleep, is guided relaxation, a state of conscious deep sleep that rejuvenates both mind and body. Sessions last between 20-45 minutes on average. The teacher may use body scanning, guided imagery, or other methods to lead you to a state of deep relaxation. Read an article about yoga nidra here. You can look up classes in your area, purchase CDs or mp3s online, or find free guided meditation mp3s at Dharma Talks or one by Tom Volkar here.
An intriguing and fascinating practice I began last year is called Shiva Nata, or the Dance of Shiva. This also takes your mind to new and higher places. The amazing Havi Brooks (whose blog and products at The Fluent Self will blow your mind) says that shiva nata “uses movement patterns to generate new neural connections and huge understandings that let you rewrite your patterns.” You will begin having epiphanies like crazy. Your mind will clear. You may feel inspired. Shiva nata might look weird, but trust me (and Havi!) when I say it rocks.
Like I said, Havi Brooks will blow your mind. She offers plenty of ideas and exercises you can do to “destuckify” yourself, whatever your particular type of stuck is. She’s huge on self-kindness and patience, which is perfect for when you’re having a hard time no matter what the circumstances. Just go visit her blog – you can thank me later! You can even download a free “recoding your mind” meditation mp3 from her website.
I will discuss additional, less esoteric tactics you can try in my next post. Meanwhile, let me know if you take on any of the ones I recommend in this post!
May your writer’s block dissipate with ease and speed.