I’ve heard the expression “Writer’s Block” more often than I care to count. It’s a true phenomenon. Too often it plagues those of us who write or publish for a living. The momentary struggles can be worth it, though. Stay the course! “Writer’s Block” is simply wrestling with what to say and how to say it.
Like Winston Churchill declared in 1941, “Never, never, never give in!” http://www.eng.uwaterloo.ca/~jcslee/poetry/churchill_nevergivein.html
What to do when you struggle with what to say?
Here are some practical suggestions that have worked for me:
- Pray and ask God to help you regain or establish focus. Focus is a discipline; a wandering mind can be destructive to the progress of a writer if allowed to rule.
- Avoid too many opinions from some who may mean well, but may have the tendency to say things whether on- or off-topic that don’t help. Expressions like these:
- “That doesn’t make sense.”
- “Do you really mean that?”
- “Too edgy, too soft, too punchy, too melba toast…”
- Seek opinions from trusted friends and family who truly desire your best, and want to help, not hinder. You will know them from past experiences. These people are resourceful and can be true resources. They know when to speak and when to be silent.
- Take breaks! No time limits; be productive but don’t stress over the process.
- Speaking of stress: try and relieve stress cognitively, and intentionally. This effort begins with recognizing sources; then confronting them head-on.
- Develop breathing techniques to “breathe in/breathe out.” “Don’t forget to breathe!” Follow Mr. Miyagi’s advice to Daniel LaRusso in the movie, Karate Kid, from 1984 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_LaRusso). Another great breathing exercise, which also can serve as a preparation for relaxation (courtesy of Rick Redd, MD, author of All-In or Nothing * Master Your Destiny) is what he terms 4-5-8 breathing: 4 seconds in, hold 5, and exhale over 8 seconds. This book will help you; I am sure. See all-inornothing.com.
- Sometimes self-imposed deadlines can be worse than real ones. Spread out your efforts! Take more time when you need to.
- Try earnestly to avoid or reduce known distractions!
- As a dear friend often says, “Enjoy!” From Greater Results Less Effort by Bud Hendrickson; greaterresultslesseffort.com
- It’s a journey before it’s a destination. I am reminded of a sign in a physical therapy office: “I didn’t do it in one day, either.” ~ God
As you write, research the topic generally and specifically as you go. It’s certainly permissible to do this. Be a stickler for correct grammar, punctuation, quotes, etc. Proof your writing, and ask a trusted editor to do the same. Be grateful when they discover errors!
Step away and review your writing … a little later. A fresh mind can give you a fresh perspective.
However, don’t let “mechanics” become barricades to creativity and the “flow” of writing.
If writer’s block persists, change the topic; consider a different theme, an alternative path. I have started books, done much research, and have usually ended up with more than I can use. Remember: you may not need to “cover it all” in one book or article.
One of the techniques I have employed countless times, especially in preparation to write literature: reduce the entire theme of what you intent to say, to one sentence or less. Expand from there. This exercise can greatly assist primary focus. Often this reduction is contributory to beginning the writing, and creating your title.
How mental is writing? I am convinced it is 90% mental and 10% labor. Much like riding a bike: be convinced that you can balance, before you try. This mental “convincing” is a key to beginning any labor, any worthwhile effort. The mental piece is not a game; in a game you may not know the outcome, or it wouldn’t be a game? The mental piece is conviction before and beyond the act of putting pen to paper, or fingers to a keyboard.
Can you do this? I often tell myself when confronting challenges to creativity or “being fresh” in my thinking and acting: “Glen, you can do this. You can do this. You can do this!”
At Creative Team Publishing we want to see your creation.
Remember that. www.creativeteampublishing.com