It’s 1am on the night before your report’s submission and you’re sitting in front of your laptop, desperately trying to come up with something to write. You’re only halfway through your report and your mind’s running wild with anxiety and fear. You stand up to get a drink, in the hopes that a soothing cup of water can get your mind running again. Yet, as the sun rises, you find yourself nowhere closer to completing your report than you were before.
This phenomenon is known as a writer’s block, and is one that is frequently faced by writers all around the world. A common occurrence among writers from multiple regions and time periods, the term was not coined until the 1940s when a psychiatrist named Edmund Bergler introduced it into academic literature. A writer’s block is not the end of the world, but it can cause quite a bit of anxiety. But scary as it seems, writer’s block isn’t always a scary beast, and this article goes into more details about writer’s block and how one can overcome it.
There are many ways in which a writer’s block can manifest, it is different for everyone. Generally, though, writer’s block refers to a creative blockage where one is unable to come up with any ideas and thoughts. Wikipedia’s definition of writer’s block states that it is a condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing. This is certainly not too far off from how writer’s block normally occurs.
Reasons for Writer’s Block
Stress is but one of the many reasons for the occurrence of writer’s block. There are many reasons behind writer’s block. Behind most of these occurrences though, is the existence of stress. Stress dulls one’s mind and concentration. It puts us into a state of panic that reduces our mental capacities. It is no wonder that one becomes unable to perform to one’s best capabilities when under stress.
Another common reason for writer’s block is the conception of too many ideas and a lack of commitment to any one of these ideas. This form of writer’s block usually occurs near the conception of an article or piece of writing. It occurs mainly during the brainstorming stage, when one is deciding the angle and topic of one’s writing. This form of writer’s block occurs because we may have too many preliminary ideas in mind as we start out with our writing. However, this form of writer’s block usually resolves itself as one progresses further on the writing and each preliminary idea gets developed.
One appearance of writer’s block is when we find ourselves unable to put our ideas into words. We have an amazing and wonderful idea, and know which direction we want to move our writing towards, but find that we are unable to find the correct words to express ourselves. This can be particularly frustrating: We might find ourselves writing out our ideas using different words and sentence structures, yet deleting them as we find the words used unsatisfactory. Despite the many words available, it is common to find ourselves in situations where we are unable to find the correct ones to express our thoughts. It may take hours, or maybe even days, before the proper words jump into our minds.
Solutions to Writer’s Block
There are no quick and fast ways to deal with writer’s block. Rather, it takes time to train ourselves to work around writer’s block. One way in which we can do so is to keep an ideas journal. An ideas journal is an adaptation of the dream diary which Graham Greene, an English novelist, kept in order to combat writer’s block. Keep the journal somewhere easily accessible, such as on a notetaking app on your mobile phone. Whenever any idea for an article or writing comes up, jot them down in the journal. Review the journal often, and update each idea as they get developed. This way, when it comes down to writing, you will have access to a whole journal of full-blown ideas.
Another way to work around writer’s block is to have ready access to some quick stress-relief activities. For me, listening to a soothing song or two is an effective way to refresh myself from the stresses of my everyday life, and get back into a writing mood. Writing while we are stressed is generally a bad idea. In a study performed by Edmund Bergler in 1950, it was found that writers who were blocked were generally psychologically blocked as well. The most effective way to unblock the writers’ creativity was to relief their psychological blockage through therapy. So, the next time you find yourself unable to write, do consider a quick soothing cup of honey tea to refresh yourself both physically and psychologically!
Writer’s block is largely a natural occurrence: A break, if you will, between our brain’s high productivity periods. There are no methods to stave off writer’s block completely. Rather, solutions to writer’s block aims either to make greater use of our high productivity periods and the excess of ideas we tend to have during this period, or to minimise the amount of productivity downtime we experience.