Writers Block - The Struggle is Real
I started writing a piece, and stepped back from it several times, okay, if I'm being honest, it's writer's block. It came out of left field, it wasn't expected, and honestly, I didn't know what to do. I was feeling tired, stressed, pulled in so many directions, I needed to step back.
I got to thinking, what causes writer's block, and how does one overcome it? Webster’s dictionary defines writer’s block as “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.” Well, yes, that makes sense, but I wanted to know why, so naturally, I did some research.
What I found was that it can be similar to burn out, the creative juices can be shut off, however that isn't the only reason. Writers are impacted by their own lives, stress, anxiety, physical health, sleep, relational or interpersonal issues, trauma, grief, loss, outside pressures, fear of failure, and so on. It may be that your passion has fizzled out, that your motivation has changed, other things became more important to you, other things are distracting you, you're burnt out, or perhaps the expectations you have on yourself are too great.
So, how does one get back on track and accept that the struggle of writer's block is due to something bigger. First, we must step back and accept that we are experiencing writer's block. This part is hard, especially if you also struggle with perfectionism, as you may believe that you should be able to do it - well don't should all over yourself, you are right where you are supposed to be.
Once you accept where you are, step away, and look at the bigger picture. What else is going on in your life? at home? at work? in relationships? Are you stressed, anxious, or feeling burnt out.
Ways to combat this writer's block, physically step away, get moving, exercise, get out in nature, do something positive for your body. Working out, exercising, has been researched and proven to help reduce stress, anxiety, help with focus, and increase both productivity and memory function. Running and aerobic exercises help encourage the growth of new brain cells within the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain which allows us to imagine new situations. Go for a walk, a run, to try a fitness class at home or in a gym to help your mind and body.
Sometimes it's also helpful to simply walk away, clear out mind, and have a change of scenery. Perhaps you try working from a different environment, outside, in a coffee shop, or even another room. Simply taking space or walking away for a coffee break may be enough, but not always.
Perhaps you try the subtle art of doing nothing, allow yourself to be okay resting, recharging, and doing nothing, or close too. We all consider doing nothing something slightly different. Try disconnecting from your device, social media, and emails. Allow yourself to truly relax, and do something different or nothing at all. Meditate, yes, I said it, it may seem silly or sound like something you don't believe you can do, however, I assure you, you can. There are so many different ways to meditate, try different techniques and find what works for you.
Strive for progress, not perfection. I can not stress this one enough, as we say on the golf course, forward is forward. It's okay if you aren't writing as much as you were, it's okay if you slow down, allow yourself the space to write when you feel driven, motivated, and creative. Try not to binge write, you may find yourself burning out faster and struggling more to get back into a rhythm, thus also comparing where you were to where you're at.
If you write 5 minutes a day one day, none the next, and 20 the day after that, it's okay. Progress is the goal, getting back to where you were, but accepting where you are in this moment. It's okay to slow down, it's okay to take a break, it's okay to take a mini mental vacation in order to check in with yourself and work on the things that may be getting in the way. No matter what, remember that writer's block happens, it's not the end of the world, and when you're ready, you will be writing again like you never stopped.