Beat your brain at its own game with these tips.
Let’s be honest – Even the best copywriter might find trouble coming up with this sentence.
Sometimes words come to us like a steady flow of conversation, while other times they come to a screeching halt; It’s like something wiped our mental slates clean, washing away all our thoughts with it.
Especially when there’s a deadline to catch, the dreaded writer’s block is the last thing you need. That mounting panic that arises upon realising you spent hours typing and deleting freezes up the ability for the brain to create new content, pushing you into a vicious cycle.
However, as unwarranted as it seems, writer’s block is simply a reflection of our negative mental state; All that stress and anxiety about not writing is making us unable to write. And even though many of us see it as an obstacle, the struggle we suffer is actually lending a helping hand.
As novelist Ray Bradbury aptly puts it, “In the middle of writing something you go blank and your mind says “No, that’s it” You’re being warned. Your subconscious is saying “I don’t like you anymore. You’re writing about things I don’t give a damn for.”
It’s time to start seeing your worst enemy as your best friend. Here are 3 ways you can embrace your writer’s block – and overcome it in the process.
1. Stop Thinking about Not Thinking
As mentioned, this phenomenon is fuelled by a negative pressure to perform. Psychologists theorise that feelings such as anxiety or anger stimulates stress hormones that stops communication with the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for creative thinking.
In many ways, it is a similar situation to how one might experience depression or anxiety. By ruminating and over-thinking about the lack of thinking, this demotivates the writer and spirals the issue. Therefore, one solution to solving this problem is by releasing the mind from obsessing about it – by just relaxing.
Your writer’s block acts an indication that your mind has reached a dead end. Step away from your writing, and engage in some stress-reducing activities; Running, meditation or having a walk while listening to music helps to calm the mind down, improving concentration and clarity of thought.
2. Break Your Ideas Down To Simple Tasks
Often, we start upon a project with a broad, overall objective or concept in mind. Unfortunately, having an idea alone does not equate to having any words or sentences laid at your disposal. Many of us tend to overlook this gigantic task of writing itself, and overestimate our brains’ capability in stringing abstract ideas into concrete text.
Simply put, your mind is in a mess as to exactly where to start. The fact that there are so many possibilities but no direction brings on feelings of panic, which consequently freezes up your thinking process. Thus, lighten your brain’s cognitive load by breaking ideas down into small specific tasks. From drawing out a detailed outline to listing out mundane steps, these bits of instructions are easier to achieve, and provide a sense of accomplishment.
No matter how insignificant, the mind is still slowly, but surely working its way to achieving the overarching idea.
3. Write Naturally, Even If There’s Errors
Sadly, another cause of this mental blockage is our fear of judgement. There is a false belief that good writers only write once, and that good writing is above all criticism. So, instead of writing what naturally comes to us, we toss and turn an idea or sentence until we believe its faultless, which rarely happens.
In fact, researchers found that those suffering from writer’s block are de-motivated because of how they judge themselves and others. This in turn, made them unhappy, which was reflected in their stunted writing. Some writers were stuck because of their self-criticism – they felt that their writing wasn’t good enough; While others cited a fear of comparison as their source of disappointment.
The final key to counteracting writer’s block is therefore regaining your confidence in writing. Remind yourself that it doesn’t matter what you think others might think of you. Instead, write what strikes you in the moment.
Engaging in sessions of free-writing helps in exploring one’s imagination and creativity; It also serves as a form of tension release from instances of repressed, self-critical writing. Likewise, foster a “Write first, think later” mantra when it comes to written work; There is always time to polish or discard content, as long as you have something to work with.
As with life, the process of writing doesn’t have a tried-and-true formula, and neither is it linear in nature; Just because it’s written, doesn’t mean its absolute. Practice makes perfect, so each time your writer’s block greets you with another headache, know that you are only getting better.
Written by: (www.script.com.sg)
Edited & Illustrated by: Script Consultants Pte Ltd