WRITTEN BY THEA VOUTIRITSAS
You sit down to write, but slowly the blank page wraps around your brain like a straightjacket. You stare on, trying to squeeze out the smallest inkling of creativity–but no words come out. It’s writer’s block. It happens to the best of us. But don’t give up yet! There are plenty of things you can do to help boost creativity. Let’s start with these five simple tips to overcome your writer’s block.
1. write about what’s on your mind.
As Charles Bukowski said, “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.” Sometimes it helps to just put a pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and let the words flow no matter what they are. Set a timer for five minutes and promise yourself you won’t stop writing unless the house is on fire. It doesn’t matter if you write about the pitfalls of modern capitalism or how it feels to breathe. It doesn’t even matter if you write complete sentences. Just free write to get your mind moving again.
2. break down your ego.
Writer’s block often comes from wanting to protect your own ego, but being a writer means being okay with making a lot of bad work. Give yourself permission to not be perfect. There are two ways to do this: mentally and physically.
For mental blocks, one option is to write down as many bad ideas as you can. For example, writing about Tibet without ever researching or going to Tibet is probably a bad idea. You can also write down sentences with no subject, no flow, or no ending. It may feel awkward or not authentic at first, but it’ll remind you that sometimes you have to let the bad ideas out to find the good ones.
You can also break down your mental roadblocks by getting a little physical. Stand up and move your face and body in ways you’ve never tried before. You can jump around, stick your tongue out, squeeze your eyes shut, flail your arms, scream, or all of the above. You might look or feel silly, but that’s the point. Give yourself permission to be weird. Bonus points if you can make yourself laugh.
3. call an old friend.
Take a break from the grind by talking to someone else for a while. Call someone you care about but haven’t caught up with in a bit. You don’t even need to talk to them about your writer’s block. Instead, talk about them. A little practice in empathy and a genuine interest in other people can help you you get out of your own head and find new things to write about.
4. try omm writer.
If the outside world is crowding your thoughts, try using Omm Writer. This isn’t an ad–I promise. I’ve used it myself, and I honestly enjoy it. With beautiful backgrounds, soothing music, and satisfying keystroke sounds, Omm Writer helps you stay focused and motivated while you write. The text box is small, while the background fills the entire screen. This gives your eyes a break from the blinding white background of Microsoft Word and helps you stay away from opening new tabs while you write. Meanwhile, the keystroke sounds encourage you to continue writing at the same pace. It also keeps track of your word count right underneath the textbox so you can watch your ideas grow and your writer’s block melt away.
5. create a spinoff.
Starting from a fully blank page can be intimidating, so give yourself a running start by borrowing a few words from your past self. Find a piece of old work, pick a few words or lines from it, and take them in an entirely new direction. Imagine turning a poem on grief into a celebration of love or turning your favorite hero into a villain. Picture an odd doodle of yours coming to life. Sometimes it helps to have a little something to start with.
When it comes to writer’s block, the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up about it. It’s okay to be out of ideas some days, and it’s okay to write things that never see the light of day. Not everything has to be a Pulitzer Prize winner. The important part is to keep writing. Remember that the more you write, the easier it will be to find your flow.