For those of us who’s very survival is based on our ability to write the next word, the dreaded Writer’s Block is one of the most feared malady of a writer’s life. It is that point when you are tired, when have no interest in your work and future work only seems to make it worse, and when doing your work becomes harder and harder to do until you don’t even want to see it again.
Writer’s block is like a virus, once you contract it, it can become debilitating and if not treated, difficult to recover from. Over the 14 years I’ve been writing I’ve pricked up a few tricks to keep myself from catching writer’s block and recover from it when I don’t catch it in time. They might require some fundamental changes to your routine depending on your life.
9 Tricks to Recover from Writer’s Block
1) Take a vacation. This one is my favorites, but this one doesn’t mean that you have to leave the state, go camping, or plan an elaborate retreat. (I don’t know about you, but a vacation doesn’t mean the same now that I’m older as it did when I was a kid.) It just means that you step away from your work. You can go somewhere else, go to a café with a friend, take your kids to the park, be lazy, get some house or yard work finished, watch a movie/TV/Anime, walk around, relax, take a drive, and/or read a book. Sometimes just a change of scenery can make all the difference.
2) Take care of yourself. This is one I need to work on. There are never enough hours in my day, and I’m constantly going from one project to another without stopping to breathe. I’m learning that I have to take care of myself and my talent, I’m healthier physically and emotionally, which makes me better able to be cope with stress, be happy, and less likely to burn out. Sometimes taking care of ourselves just means taking a step away and relaxing.
3) Accept Failure. Not only is no one perfect, but what fun is perfection. Failure is where you learn and grow. It is the stick by which you can judge your progress. And one person’s failure, can be another person’s success…or at least the path to success.
4) Join a support group or Find a Writing Partner. A writing partner can help kick your ass into action and keep you motivated.
5) Be careful of criticism. We need to learn to handle criticism as writers, however, during the creative process you don’t need a critic sitting on your shoulder. Let your creativity have free reign at the beginning stages and criticism at the later stages, once you have revised and edited your work. Another tip, give your work to someone you can trust to give you an honest opinion and constructive criticism (this means they don’t just tell you what is wrong, but also what you did right).
6) Find your balance. Don’t overload yourself with too much work. Take a break. Explore new venues. Change topics, scenes, and even genres. Spend time with your family. Whatever you need to do to find balance in your life and your writing. Even if that means taking a little more time to write.
7) Explore your reasons. Writer’s burn out for a reason, figure out why it happened to you. Every situation is different. Try to identify the problems and work to improve them. A good way to do this is through guided journaling or free-writing. Figure out what matters to you and how to get it. Remember, writing about problems is a different process than talking it out or thinking about them.
8) What’s your motivation? Are you an extrinsic motivator or intrinsic motivator? If you are an extrinsic motivator, then you are motivated by things that come outside of yourself, deadlines, other people’s evaluations of your writing, or the need to pay the electric bill. However, if you are a intrinsic motivator, then you are motivated by things inside you, challenges you make for yourself, self-made deadlines, finding pleasure in your work.
9) Change it up. The best way I’ve found to overcome writer’s block is to write something just for you. Trying different forms of writing. Maybe write in another genre.
Creative people hit the point eventually where they feel tired and can’t find any interest in their work. If you have experienced writer’s block and wish to add anything, please comment. What are some ways you have employed to recover from burn out? Or keep yourself from falling victim to writer’s block?