For the past few weeks of this semester, I have had a feeling that I very rarely get, yet really struggle with when I do: writer’s block. Yes, good old fashioned writer’s block, absolutely one of the perils of my existence as a college student who has papers, journals, and stress writing to do. However, despite the lack of words in my brain, I was able to trap few thoughts on why I was in my predicament in the first place and how to fix it. Below is a list of ideas that typically help me when I cannot seem to find that natural flow of brain power to words to keyboard to functioning and fluent essay.
1. Give It A Rest
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Even if you’re someone who loves to write and very rarely gets sick of it, it could be possible that you’ve just been typing for a few too many hours and thinking too deeply for too long. So, as tempting as it may be to keep forcing yourself and to stay stationary at your laptop, go do something. Even if you are up against a deadline and can only afford fifteen minutes, giving the brain variety and frequent rest breaks have been shown to improve critical thinking ability, motivation, and creativity. Breaks also prevent your brain from falling asleep of becoming bored because it changes u the routine it is used to. So, the next time you are struggling to get the words out, go do something that will wake up your brain and hopefully boost your writing potential up to where it is supposed to be.
2. Embrace Your Inner Nerd
Everyone enjoys being smart, whether they are what would be considered a nerd or whether they prefer to conceal their smarts. Writing requires you to convince you’re readers that what you’re saying is intelligent and accurate and in order to truly do this, you must believe that you are smart. So, how does one simply just believe that they are smart? Start with something that you know a lot about and go with that. It does not need to relate to the topic of your writing, and it could be anything from the latest season of your favorite show on Netflix to something you remember from a research report in high school. After you have identified said thing that make you feel intelligent, show off a little. Find a friend and nerd out to them for a few minutes or google a blog relating to the topic and write a post showing off your knowledge. You could even make it as simple as making a list of everything you know about this topic and admiring it after you’re done. Whatever it is that will make you believe you are smart, spend at least a few minutes focusing on that before returning to your writing. Trust me, it will not only improve your self esteem, but also help you to sound more fluent and intelligent in your writing.
3. Become The Invincible
We all have those Marvel moments. Those moments when you feel like you can compete with anyone, handle anything, and succeed anywhere. Yes, the moments in which we feel like a superhero are awesome, but did you know these types of thoughts may actually help you to break through that writer’s block? These types of feelings are created by endorphins and hormones in your body that are also responsible for feelings of motivation, creativity, and productivity. So figure out what exactly it is that creates these types of feelings for you. It could involve, having a vigorous workout, listening to upbeat or inspiring music, watching or reading about something that inspires you or makes you feel awesome, such as an action movie or an encouraging book about something you’re interested in. Sometimes, people (for the extroverts) or the lack there of (for the introverts), can also help to boost your confidence and self esteem. Try going out with friends or a significant other for a night, or if you’re in need of a people break, make some comfort food and spend time alone rejuvenating. Whatever it is that makes you feel invincible, spend some time focusing on that before you try to continue writing. Once you feel like you can do anything, that journal or essay will prove not to be such a challenge.
4. Set The Mood
You wouldn’t normally hear “Staying Alive” being played at a funeral, nor would you try to train for your upcoming half marathon while listening to music that makes you tear up. You need appropriate mood-setting music for both of those events, and same concept applies to writing and language. When trying to write in a specific style, you need to expose and surround yourself to language that is similar. For example, when trying to write in a more formal, proper, and pristine manner I would recommend surrounding yourself with an English accent, as the sound does tend to give Americans the impression of conserved and intelligent. The same is true if you are using improper language or slang in dialogue. When trying to write either fictional or nonfictional pieces, it is important to set the mood and to get yourself in a similar head space as your writing. Try watching a movie that involves characters that speak in a similar way, and, most importantly watch something that has characters that interact within one another. Dialogue is vital for mood setting because non-human voices or monologues can be difficult to mimic. A good example of a show with an English accent and character interaction would be BBC’s Sherlock series (just found out that they’re not making a fifth series and I’m still having withdrawals). This show is an excellent choice for this type of mood-setting not only because of the accent, but also because of the constant bantering and persuasion among characters throughout the show. An example of a mood-setting film for a more nonfictional writing piece would be a documentary or a court case. Both of these film types allow for persuasion, opinion, and dialogue and they can provide real-life examples of how the type of language you are using is applied.
5. To Move Or Not To Move
Despite the fact that your brain needs breaks and variety within these breaks, studies have shown that every brain is different when it comes to benefits from repetition versus variety. Think about your writing habits. Do you always write at the same time, in the same place, with the same song on repeat? Or do you mix it up and change your writing routine every time you open your laptop? If you are experiencing writer’s block, you may want to try doing the opposite of what you are doing. If you’ve always had a strict routine, try changing it up and see if it helps. The same goes for people that always change their routine, and they should try writing with one motivating song on repeat, or sitting in the same place everyday. The reason for this is to learn if your brain prefers routine or change or a mix. Personally, I have found that I can write in a different place everyday. However, if I try to sit down and write before three in the afternoon or put a playlist on shuffle instead of having one song on repeat the entire time, I tend to lose focus, not actually be productive, and, eventually, obtain writer’s block myself. This is just one example of how one brain works, and the truth is that every brain is different and has its own preferences when it comes to being productive. My advice is to experiment with location, music, surroundings, time of day, and activities that lead up to writing. Try changing these things up and see if anything changes. Maybe you are already doing what works best for you, but only experimenting will be able to tell.