Overcoming Writer's Block

As anyone who was dabbled in creative endeavours know, writer's block is ubiquitous aspect of the creative process that virtually all artists/authors will encounter and have to overcome at some point in their career. Particularly after periods of dormant artistic inactivity, writer's block will leave even the most fanciful and imaginative of creators at a loss when it comes to the incubation of fresh ideas. During trying times like this, that spark of genius or that unbridled outpouring of self-expression artists are perpetually seeking may, illusive as it already is, seem nigh impossible to conceive. But as you claw your way out of the depths of the valley of artistic stagnation, one painstaking line at a time, the former struggle to create seems more and more trivial as you begin to rise and crest yet another wave of creation.

Scoured from all corners of the internet, here are some broad tips — featuring the advice of some illustrious names in prose and poetry — to help you overcome writer's block.


1. Let it Be

Like everything else, writer's block comes and goes. Truly, the most effective remedy to this seemingly incurable malady of the spirit/soul/mind — similar to most of our ailments — is time. Take it from Neil Gaiman, author of so many vivid and imaginatively conceived critically-acclaimed award-winning novels and comics that it will make your head spin:

"Suggestions? put it aside for a few days, or longer, do other things, try not to think about it. Then sit down and read it (printouts are best I find, but that's just me) as if you've never seen it before. Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see anything you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you'll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are. And you do it all one word at a time." - Neil Gaiman


2. Contemplation & Mindfulness


Truly great art is the product of a genuine need for self-expression. The process of taking what's on the inside and articulating it in such a way that people are able to understand and appreciate it requires contemplation and thoughtfulness beyond the beck and call of garden variety self-analysis. And this, according to Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, is particularly true when you're not struggling to write anything, but when you're struggling to say something.

“Now, what I’m thinking of is, people always saying “Well, what do we do about a sudden blockage in your writing? What if you have a blockage and you don’t know what to do about it?” Well, it’s obvious you’re doing the wrong thing, don’t you? In the middle of writing something you go blank and your mind says: “No, that’s it.” Ok. You’re being warned, aren’t you? Your subconscious is saying “I don’t like you anymore. You’re writing about things I don’t give a damn for.” You’re being political, or you’re being socially aware. You’re writing things that will benefit the world. To hell with that! I don’t write things to benefit the world. If it happens that they do, swell. I didn’t set out to do that. I set out to have a hell of a lot of fun.

I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy. Get out of here tonight and say: ‘Am I being joyful?’ And if you’ve got a writer’s block, you can cure it this evening by stopping whatever you’re writing and doing something else. You picked the wrong subject.” - Ray Bradbury


3. Plan It, Do It. Just Do It


While the first two tips prescribe courses of action to take if writer's block rears its head during the middle of a project, this last tip will address what to do if nothing at all is coming out. Plan it out, break it down, and attack. Too often we'll struggle to create because our minds are encroached with claustrophobic worries and woes that leave us confined in uncomfortable corners in our own heads. Set aside time in your day for the sole purpose of writing and just do it. Just write with reckless abandon and no regard for "mistakes" or what others or even yourself may think. Don't let your ego get in the way of the act of creation.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” - Mark Twain

“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’”  - Maya Angelou

Sources: The Guardian, Flavorwire