Whenever you hit a wall in your writing, just look these up and give them a shot
It can happen when you least expect it, but it can happen nevertheless. No writer on Earth is immune to it, not even me.
Writer’s block is a common affliction that grips every practising writer worth their salt. Despite all the careful and meticulous planning on Earth, no amount of discipline or willpower can be enough to chase away the blues that hit us when we find ourselves unable to write a word.
It could be due to fear of criticism or “trolling”. It could be due to an excessive obsession with perfection. It could be because your last couple of posts haven’t garnered the page views as expected. Whatever the reason, even if it’s none of these and something else, writer’s block is a real phenomenon that can keep you stuck and render you ineffective for days, if not weeks or months.
Is there a cure for this condition? Thankfully, writer’s block is usually temporary, so it’s only a matter of time before the words come pouring out of you. But considering it isn’t a good thing to hit us when we have a deadline looming over us, we need some quick fixes to get our creative juices flowing.
Here are 26 things you could do whenever you feel you’ve reached this dead end. These are based on my personal experiences, so they should be effective enough for you to overcome your writer’s block, too. If you have a tip, hack, or technique that has worked for you, do share it in the comments so everyone can apply and benefit from it.
Stick to your routine and show up on the dot, even if you end up staring at your laptop or a blank page, doing nothing. If you don’t follow your schedule, you will allow yourself to break a well-formed habit and the mind will find more ways to squander away that valuable time you need to spend writing and working. Keep the file you’re supposed to be working on open at all times.
Tell yourself to focus on your assignment for no more than five minutes. See how you end up breaking your own instruction by continuing the task for a longer duration.
Order yourself to jot down just one word and leave. I bet nobody can stop at that!
Read something—a book, an article, a blog post, a Twitter thread, anything. Take notes of whatever pops up in your head in the process. For the book, may I recommend my own? It’s a great read if you like inspirational narratives. Buy/download, read, and review PiKu & ViRu here; it’s FREE on Kindle Unlimited.
Yes, take notes. They could pertain to your thoughts, a movie you decide to watch, an article or story you feel you can do more justice to than its actual writer…
For movies and TV shows, you could do a scene-by-scene breakdown like how I have for the Bollywood blockbuster Jab We Met in this blog post, besides reviewing them.
Trawl through your old stories, articles, blog posts, and journal entries. You are likely to find something in there. In most cases, you may simply want to end up improving or rewriting them.
Make lists. Simple and easy. Of the books you want to read, the movies and TV shows you want to watch, the skills you aim to build, the places you yearn to visit, the things you have to buy, the foods you have to try, the life and work lessons you have learned, and so on.
Write about your writer’s block, like how I’m doing in this blog post.
Practise mindfulness. I got idea #9 when I centred myself in the present moment and allowed my thoughts to stabilise.
Go on a screenshotting spree, and observe what patterns bind your finds.
Choose any random image and see what thoughts or ideas come up.
Look up writing prompts. I have a bunch of them here! Better: create your writing prompts.
Just write or scribble random things. Tell the world this is what you did during your writer’s block.
Document a tutorial or workshop you attended, even if it was years ago.
Talk to yourself, and record your self-talk.
Are you sure you’ve netted enough sleep? Rest it out with a nap if the lack of slumber is what’s slowing you down.
Or are you bored? In which case you could step out for a walk.
Do something else. I was kneading dough out of flour when I got the brainwave to practise mindfulness, which led me to this blog post.
Research images for your article or blog post.
Bang out another story, blog post, article, book, or screenplay instead of the current one and schedule it in advance.
If you’re stuck because you cannot think of what word to use or how to structure a sentence or in case something needs to be researched or fact-checked, simply insert “XXX” to mark out that point or put in a comment accordingly.
It isn’t necessary to nail the headline or intro first. Start writing from wherever you feel comfortable.
Write your long-form work in bullet points or use chits or sticky notes. You can always collate and edit everything later.
Don’t be afraid to seek a little inspiration whenever you experience writer’s block. Can’t think of the perfect beginning to your article? Better to pull out a few references from other stories and see how you can give them your own spin without plagiarising than letting your head stew in indecision.