Several years ago one of our Creative Team Publishing authors called the office and frustratingly related that he was “stuck,” dealing with “writer’s block.” This condition can be pretty common among writers. It’s when writing stops because an author can’t think of what next to put on paper or type on a keyboard. Some months prior to this phone call, I had accidentally seen this author in Virginia; we had run into each other in a doctor’s office. I was there because of an eye issue…my right eye was swollen from an infection. It was a Saturday. I was concerned that I would be able to perform music in a church the next day, and when my author asked how I was, my reply was really a complaint, worrying about the eye, wondering if I could present music the next day; for the moment it seemed to be whine, whine, whine.
The author calmly but firmly, convincingly said, “You’ll be fine.” That was it. He is a committed and strong man, exuding confidence. And he was right. The eye swelling went down soon enough, and the performance Sunday occurred with no issues.
So, let’s go back to his phone call. When he said he was stuck and was experiencing writer’s block, I waited just a few seconds, and said, “Do you remember our chance meeting in the doctor’s office in Virginia?” He remembered. I asked, “Do you remember what you said to me?” He did. I then enjoined, “You’ll be fine.” We both chuckled. And we have laughed about this since.
Becoming fine and wresting yourself away from writer’s block to again permit creativity to flow, is a common challenge, at least for many writers with whom I have had the privilege of working. So how does one handle this setback? Let me offer some practical steps.
- Realize that the hesitation or break in creativity will not be permanent unless the writer encourages and supports negative doubts and fears instead of reversing course and switching his or her personal focus to the positive actions that need to be taken.
- One of those redemptive actions is to reduce stress. Yes, it can be done. Find out the source of stress, confront it, and remove this detractor. Here are some steps:
- Take breaks.
- Hydrate (drink water).
- Take a walk or exercise.
- Listen to music you enjoy to revive you.
- Call a friend or colleague just to visit for a while.
- Change your environment if needed.
- Breathe deep.
- Remove the unnecessary distractions that creep in: like too many phone calls, texts, and more. Smart phones can be a blessing and a curse.
- Reduce interruptions—relocate to a quieter place.
- Talk with someone you love or who loves you.
- Choose to concentrate on something other than just the task at hand. This is mental discipline and God gave us minds that can be renewed if we want them to be and willingly accept that renewal is possible. If you are one who believes God, pray that God will renew you and refresh your thinking. Take comfort in this verse of scripture: Romans 12:2 (NIV) “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” A sincere prayer like this will likely refresh you.
- You may wish to try and think of new ways of saying what you want to express. Quote or refer to a truth which inspires you.
- Because isolation, though often necessary for authors, can impede progress if endured in excess, surround yourself with people who inspire and encourage you. Utilize their strengths.
- Relate a relevant story to prove a point.
- Pet the dog or cat.
Will these action steps always work? Well, we all know that “always” cannot be guaranteed on much of anything. But you are encouraged to give some or all of these actions a try and, with a positive attitude, you may watch creativity and discipline combine to re-motivate you in your writing efforts.