How I Battle My Way Through A Writer's Block
2 weeks back I was at the peak of self-motivation.
I was working extra hard, toiling away every night on my blog after wrapping up my regular 12 hours of office work.
The weekends were also super constructive. I was able to churn out atleast two 1000 word blog posts per day.
And when I was not writing, I was spending time researching, reading and learning all the different ways I could monetize my website, build my brand and kickstart my online freelance career.
I was a live wire crackling with enthusiasm.
Supercharged to turn my life around and build up my writing career.
But something happened over the course of last week.
My energy suddenly plummeted, I started feeling tired and I lost my focus.
It was almost as if someone had disconnected my power supply and the live wire had gone all limp!
The worst part of this phase was my inability to write a single new post.
Try as hard as I reminded myself of the need to keep writing, I found myself going out for long drives or chilling out with Netflix instead of sitting down to actually write.
And when I did force myself to sit down to write, my mind felt like an empty canvas. No great thought created ripples in the ocean of my mind and the words were all stuck somewhere deep inside like constipated faeces.
I haplessly kept clacking away at my laptop keyboard in the hopes of creating some nutritious food for thought for my readers. But alas! My mind just won’t work. It was on a full-blown strike!
I had been hit with the dreaded yet all too common Writer’s Block!
I felt so paralyzed inside I thought of giving up.
And so I watched the days pass by without writing a single new blog post ( well technically this one today came after days of not writing a word and after hours of staring at the blank wall behind my laptop!).
Has this happened to you ever?
While I reflect on this topic, some common reasons come to mind that usually contribute to such a phase. Let me know if the same applies to you as well.
Anxiety & stress
Feeling too ambitious or creating deadlines can make me suffer an instant blockage. I guess that has to do with the fact that writing is a creative process. As with all creative endeavours, the best results are often obtained spontaneously. And probably nothing kills spontaneity more than anxiety.
Self Consciousness & Self Doubt
I often tend to get too conscious about my work and therefore too picky about everything when it comes to writing.
For example, I have been pondering too much about what to write on for the last several days. Would it be women’s issues, would it be related to freelancing or shall it be something related to lifestyle?
Every time something came to mind and I decided to sit down and write on it, I would immediately think up of 5 different reasons why it may not be the best topic to write on. And then I would keep thinking of something else and this would go on in an endless loop.
The next step sees me having thoughts like 'Am I good enough?'. 'Is it possible for someone like me to earn money through writing?'.
'Maybe I am not cut out for this?'
Obsession with Vocabs
Ever found yourself obsessing over the exact word or phrase to describe something while writing?
It happens to me all too often.
Time and again I find myself caught up in situations (happened just now as I was trying to come up with a better word than situation) where the right words keep playing peek a boo!
I can almost see them or feel them, but don’t quite have them at my fingertips.
This invariably leads to massive time loss as I keep typing and deleting to type again the same sentence over and over in 10 different ways in the hopes of coming up with the perfect word.
After struggling for 40 minutes, I decide it's not worth the effort and shut down my laptop.
Burnout from overworking
Too much work can lead to burnout which leads to lack of productivity.
After doing my office work for 12-13 hours every day, I often find myself struggling to come up with words when I do finally get some time to sit down and write.
My mind would be so strained and exhausted from the day’s work, that it would lead to, at best, very mechanized writing. Something that I simply hate!
Lack of Reading Time
I believe, just like a lactating mother needs to keep herself hydrated by drinking sufficient fluid to be able to provide ample milk for her newborn, so too a writer needs to be reading sufficient amount of good literary work to deliver quality writing.
I have seen this happen all the time with me.
While I started in my childhood being an avid reader, this habit gradually reduced with age.
And by the time I started working, my reading habit almost disappeared under the load of monthly performance reviews and daily targets at the office.
What's the Solution?
Notwithstanding ten million articles in google on ‘10 ways to get out of a writer’s block’, I do feel that this phase is pretty much like a bad bout of cold. No matter how many pills you pop, the virus would leave you only once its done running its usual course.
Having said that though, I will proceed to jot down a few stuff that has helped me to some extent tide over such blockades in the past.
More like having a cup of hot ginger tea to help ease your sore throat. While that itself won’t cure your cold, but it certainly helps move things along.
Sit Down & Start Writing
Just about anything.
Doesn’t matter what!
Fire up your laptop, open Word Doc and type out the first word that comes to mind.
Doesn’t have to be fitting a specific niche, topic or idea.
It can be absolutely anything under the Sun that your mind can think of.
For once, lose the reigns over your mind and let it breathe!
Relax with an imaginary glass of martini, and watch your mind play itself out, however, it pleases, on the word doc in front of you!
You will often end up surprising yourself!
Sip on a Glass of Red Wine
While my intention is definitely not to promote alcohol addiction, my personal observation has been that I write my best when I am slightly inebriated.
Long gone are the days of early youth when I would hang out with friends at pubs once every month guzzling mugs of beer and chugging bottles of Old Monk and then coming home completely sloshed.
The very idea is now repulsive to me!
Nowadays, I use mild alcohol to rewind and relax after days of fretting over office work.
So you would catch me sipping on some red wine or cosying up with a bottle of Breezer every other week usually over the weekends.
That’s also when I feel like sitting down to write.
The words flow out quite effortlessly.
I guess the main reason would be mental relaxation.
Quit Obsessing and Learn to Move On
When I get stuck on a word, I simply leave a blank or use the first word that comes to mind, moving on to finish the rest of the sentence or the para.
While doing this, I save time and end up actually completing my article instead of leaving it half done.
When I reread it later, often the right words immediately jump at me and I quickly replace the earlier generic word with this new one. Else I find out a better way to rephrase the line.
Whatever it is, I usually almost always, succeed in coming up with a more eloquent version of the original writing.
This helps me finish my post on time without bargaining with the quality.
So this post was primarily about my regular struggles with writing.
I would be interested in knowing your viewpoint as well.
Have you faced similar episodes?
How do you usually deal with them?
What works best for you?