By Aesha Duval (Follow us on LinkedIn)
Writing is hard. And it has been increasingly difficult during the last few months for me. You could say it is a case of writer’s block or maybe I have too much on my plate and lack focus these days. So I’ve reverted to tricks to combat the writer’s block that have served me well over the years. Some are my own tricks and others are borrowed from seasoned authors.
- Take a walk, set it aside or write something else. Distract yourself with some other activity, preferably something physical, to loosen your thoughts. Some writers have found that taking a shower, going for a walk or cooking a meal can provide the head space to daydream and spur creative thoughts and ideas. Listening to music has helped some authors overcome…… For some strange reason, the soundtrack to the broadway musical Hamilton, does wonders for my focus while writing. Thank you Lin-Manuel! You may not have to completely walk away from it, but instead try writing something else.
- Sleep on it. Sometimes a good night’s sleep is all you need to reset your mind and organize your thoughts.
- Start with the end and write your way to the beginning. This is a method I used as a newspaper reporter. It may not work in every writing task, but it has worked out quite often for me. One of my challenges as a reporter was coming up with that catchy “lede” or intro sentence and paragraph, containing the first line that is supposed to grab the reader with the Five Ws — who, what, where, when, why and sometimes, how — of the story. In journalist speak, the lede is the first sentence of your writing. I found it is much easier to leave the lede paragraph after I have written the majority of the article with all the key details, events, explanations, etc. Then I come up with a lede sentence or paragraph that sums up for the reader what to expect. This method helped me tremendously, not only with my news writing, but also with research papers for graduate school; work-related correspondences, and content for newsletters and other publications.
- Find the root of the problem. Almost every writer will face this at some point, however the underlying causes may be different. According to this Reedsy blog post, you should ask yourself, why are you really blocked?
- Do I feel pressure to succeed and/or compete with other writers?
- Have I lost sight of what my story is about, or interest in where it’s going?
- Do I lack confidence in my own abilities, even if I’ve written plenty before?
- Have I not written for so long that I feel intimidated by the mere act?
- Am I simply feeling tired and run-down?
There are no quick fixes for these causes, but understanding where the problem lies will help you find the best tips that work for you.
- Writer’s Block is a myth. Again, writing is hard. We all go through this, so stop beating yourself up. Rather than thinking of it as an insurmountable roadblock, look at it as a writing speed bump. You might have to slow down and take your time, but with dedication you can overcome it.
Defeating Writer’s Block: 10 Ways to Get Out of a Slump. https://blog.reedsy.com/writers-block/#10__stop_believing_in_the_myth_of_writer_s_block
10 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block by Andrea Bachofen. https://authornews.penguinrandomhouse.com/10-ways-to-beat-writers-block/
Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.