How to Overcome Writer’s Block
Don’t sweat it! Everyone goes through writer’s block, even us here at Kapok. But, is writer’s block even real? Some argue that writer’s block is simply a phenomenon that only exists inside your own head.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of writer’s block is “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.”
So, admittedly, writer’s block is not a physical ailment, such as carpal tunnel. However, we know that emotional stress can actually impact your physical wellbeing.
Either way, you can’t seem to shake the feeling that something is holding you back. But, not to worry! We’re here to give you the push you need, even if you have to take a step back to get there.
This post features a variety of tips from our team. So, no matter the cause of your writer’s block, we hope that at least one of the tips below will work for you.
This may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the best thing to do is to stop writing. So, close the laptop, take your hands off the keyboard and walk away.
It’s normal for our minds to get clouded with other thoughts. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to let them run free. Then, you can return, regroup and regain focus after taking a mental break.
So, if you’re not in a rush to complete this particular project, actually get up from your desk and walk away. Try and do something completely unrelated to your work.
For example, you can go outside to get some fresh air, eat a snack or chat with a friend.
On the other hand, if you’re on the clock, try starting or continuing a completely separate assignment.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we have high expectations for ourselves. Working on something that comes easier to you may help you put the negative thoughts at bay and regain some confidence.
Just Keep Writing
Don’t give us that look. We can explain! Of course, if you felt as if you could just keep writing, you wouldn’t be here reading this blog. What we’re trying to say is try to get out of your head.
This tip was recommended by Sami at our office, who was one of our in-house blog post writers during his early Kapok days; before he transitioned to a graphic design position on our team. It came in handy while writing this post.
His approach was inspired by one of our favorite marketing authors Seth Godin. Godin makes the argument that the cure for writer’s block is to write. His theory is that “it’s not necessarily that you don’t know what to write, it’s that you don’t want to write poorly.”
As we mentioned in the previous section, writer’s block can be brought on by negative thoughts. These negative thoughts often come when we fail to meet our own expectations.
You could also be anticipating the opinions of others who will read your piece, such as your boss or colleagues. This is even more likely if your writing will be published.
So, if you’re stressing out about whether or not your content will be good enough, try to write anyway. A good piece of advice Godin mentions in his blog on writer’s block is to remember that writing is something that improves over time with practice.
Just write whatever comes to mind. You can always edit what you’ve written later on. After all, at this point, something is likely better than nothing.
If you’re tripping over your words, try reading someone else’s.
Do some research on the topic you’re writing about. And, try not to think about what you’re going to write during this time. Simply use this time to get inspired by others.
Take a moment to submerge yourself in new information. Learning more about the topic will give you inspiration on what to write and from what angle to write it.
After all, learning and writing are one continuous cycle. You can even spice it up by watching a YouTube video.
Spark Your Creativity
Sometimes it’s not a lack of information but a pause in creative energy that is contributing to your writer’s block.
An awesome piece of advice given to us by Chris, the awesomest admin assistant in the Kapok land, is to read content from a writer you enjoy.
Each writer has a tone and style that is unique to them. Reading something written by your favorite writer may help get your creative juices flowing again.
Chris also shared that what you read doesn’t necessarily have to be on the subject in which you are writing. For example, Chris’ go-to writer is Marc Sessler. Sessler is a writer for the NFL. He describes his writing style as witty, clever and funny.
So, try reading a short piece written by a writer you enjoy who may have a similar writing style as you. It’s easier to write when you let your personality shine through.
Talk It Out
Try to vent. When you’re frustrated, sometimes you just need to blow off some steam. You can talk to a trusted coworker or friend about your writer’s block.
A great piece tip given by our web developer, Zak, is to identify why you have writer’s block. This could be the key to getting back on the horse. Find out if you’re having a difficult time because you don’t know what to say or you don’t know how to convey what you want to say. Speaking to someone is a great way to unpack what’s holding you back.
We can offer general tips, but someone who knows you personally or works on your team may be able to give you advice that is specific to your situation or best suited for your personality.
You can even bounce your ideas off of them. Perhaps they know a bit about the subject you are writing about. They may be able to offer a new perspective you hadn’t thought about before.
This will also give you the opportunity to step away for a bit. When you return to writing, you’ll have a fresh start and hopefully some good advice.
Trash That Idea
Our final tip is to just move on, especially if none of the above tips are doing the trick. If you have a choice, just write on an entirely different topic. You can even come back to the previous topic at a later date.
It’s also important to realize that not all ideas are good ideas. The time you are spending staring at a blank screen is time you could be spending doing something else.
If you’re writing a piece for work, consider talking to your boss about shifting the angle of the story.
Meet Yourself Where You Are
Don’t deny yourself the right to have a bad day. A bad day can be the result of mental or physical struggle, which all of us have. The worst thing you can do is deny the reality of a bad day and continue to push yourself. Bottom line, it’s unlikely that it’ll work.
Instead, give yourself the gift of kindness and take a break. Set appropriate expectations for that day. If you’re not feeling great, don’t make the situation worse by having unrealistic expectations. Meet yourself where you are at the moment. Be kind to yourself.
Advocate for yourself. Take the day off.
Once the bad day passes, come back to writing and try again. Chances are that you’ll have a fresh perspective. At the very least, you won’t have the burden of a bad day on your shoulders.
So, writer’s block may not be “real.” But the negative feelings and emotions we experience when we are unable to articulate our thoughts are the same for “believers” and “non-believers” alike.
However, what motivates us is unique to each individual and situation. So, one trick that may work for someone else, may not work for you. And, that’s okay. Start from tip number one and try each until something works out.
And, don’t sweat it. Even the most accomplished writers get stuck sometimes.
Do you have any advice for writer’s block? We’re all ears! Let us know in the comments below!