Media Shower writer Marshall Hopkins is a technical writer who has worked with law firms on complex legal and medical training documents and legal IT documents for a major oil and gas corporation.
Every writer will experience this one day: writer’s block. You want to write. You NEED to write. But the ideas aren’t coming. Whether your writing is technical or creative, fiction or non-fiction, writer’s block affects us all. But, like most of our common frustrations in life, this too can be hacked. Here are some tips for breaking through the harsh white wall of the bottomless blank page and finding your muse.
The phone rings. The baby cries. You get a text from a friend. Your calendar pops up a reminder alert. Adult life is full of distractions. Some of them are naturally unavoidable (please, check on your baby). But, there are ways out of some of life’s common distractions.
First, work on finding the best time to write to limit distractions. For some, this is early in the morning before anyone or anything is able to interrupt you. For others, it’s the end of the day or late at night. You may have to ignore your favorite TV show or Podcast to focus, but the dedicated writer inside you will thank you for accomplishing your goal.
If you don’t have the luxury of writing at odd hours, then try some isolation. Even if there is no place in the home to be completely alone, wearing headphones to listen to music that inspires you can help tune out the rest of the world. Make sure to put your phone on silent or vibrate to prevent distractions from the odd news alert or text message.
It’s a scientific fact that an active body is an active mind. This doesn’t mean that you have to execute a one-hour gym workout (although it doesn’t hurt). Instead of feeling your muscles and brain lock up by sitting in front of a screen, go for a walk or a jog, or do some jumping jacks. If none of that works then put on your favorite music station and dance, dance, dance!
If strenuous physical exertion isn’t healthy for you, you can always meditate and take deep, long breaths. On occasion (and alone if we are afraid of scaring the neighbors) singing can also be a very useful breathing exercise that gets the blood flowing.
Get Out of There
Another way to refresh your perspective is to get out of your usual writing space. We’ve all seen the person sitting in their local coffee shop, furiously typing away on their laptop. This is not just to be seen in public writing. For some writers, getting out and hearing how people talk and think can provide perspective and give their writing a new, natural voice.
For those who want to be left alone, go to your nearest park for some fresh air. You can also visit your local library for the best of both worlds – peace and quiet while surrounded by different voices.
Get a New Method
At the risk of snobbery, there’s something to be said for writing with pen and paper. If the blank white of your computer screen is frustrating you, exchange it for a blank white sheet of paper. We have found it can be refreshing to see our words in ink on page, and reminiscent of the great writers of the past.
For some, this won’t work and they’ll find themselves simply doodling pictures and not getting any work done. If that’s the case, try using a voice recorder to narrate the words instead. Speaking aloud what you want to write can change the perspective of your work and influence the approach of the piece being written.
As important as it is to be focused and dedicated to meeting your deadline, it can also be important to let your mind wander. Free-writing can inspire new ideas. Simply write the first thing that comes to mind. Ignore grammar, punctuation, and rules. The subject may change numerous times, and that’s okay. The major point is to get an idea – any idea – written.
Writers may have too many ideas on their subject to properly organize them. Try writing them all down without organizing. Just as a sculptor will begin with unformed clay and slowly shape it into a beautiful form, so the writer can do the same with words. This, of course, requires the writer to spend much more time editing to create a text suitable for publication.
Every writer – published or unpublished – will give the same truth as advice: WRITE. There are no experts in writing; we are all students with varying degrees of success. Those who succeed are those who persevere through the block and find their muse.
“Nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”
– Catherine Drinker Bowen
For inspiration and encouragement, check out our marketing success stories . You can read statements by people who have overcome writer’s block, found their muse, and seen their work reach great success.