What is writer's block?
Everyone has a different definition of writer's block. Not two people have the same thoughts about this "affliction". A writer who have not written a single word in years may deny he's suffering from writer's block while another who find it difficult to finish the daily assignment would curse this "disease" to high heavens, seeking to glean sympathy from those who are willing to listen.
When it comes to defining writer's block, I like to quote Kate Wilhelm, who once famously summed it by saying: "Writer's block is when you want to write but can't."
How do I know if I've got writer's block?
Decreased motivation. Lacking the will to write. These are but some of the symptoms you may encounter if you have writer's block.
Here are some signs:
- You didn't even brainstorm or plan your content.
- You're anxious and get cold sweat.
- "Someday" becomes your catchphrase, i.e. "Some day I'll finish this" or "Some day I'll break out of the rut be a real writer".
- You don't feel proud telling people you're a writer or are involved in writing. You may or may not catch yourself wondering why you don't talk about your work anymore. Instead, when asked about what you do for a living, you just shrug your shoulders and say, "It's just a day job."
- You dread looking at the blinking cursor staring back at you, imagining that it's taunting you for work not done.
- You've clicked on on your Facebook notification 2,719 times for the past hour and have stalked everyone you could possibly stalk.
- You've been in all pre-writing stages, i.e. reading, researching, planning, formatting EXCEPT for writing. You run around in circles, hoping to stumble onto a magic formula that will enable you to (magically) complete your writing assignment, without realizing that you cannot avoid from actually writing. This is perhaps one of the worst forms of writer's block, and may escalate to writer's DENIAL.
Be gone, writer's block!
According to Robert Boice, a self-help author, a writer who receives a jump-start in the form of free-writing assignments may see his creativity stimulated, This in turn provides him with a new direction, or something new to do, which will "excite" him into picking up the writing task again.
- Don't try to be good, i.e., dare to be bad. In other words, break the rules. You may even have fun doing it.
- Lug out your mom's old typewriter, or even buy one if you fancy its retro-ness. I personally have a vintage Adler Primus repainted in a refreshing apple green that I love to type on when I suffer from the occasional writer's block.
- Switch from computer to pen or pencil. While you're at it, doodle.
- Daydream. Ever wanted to be a professional WSOP player? Go on, write about it. Let your imagination run wild.
- Talk to your paper. Or, as an alternative, get a reliable speech-to-text software that helps you writer more efficiently. This is a huge plus point when it comes to time management, and in short, a serious boost that may help you eradicate writer's block.
- Force yourself inside someone else's shoes so that when you pull yourself out of your usual perspective, you'll be able to articulate a message that may is previously too difficult to imagine.
- Write fiction. Outrageously. Sometimes all it takes to break out of a rut is to write something you would NOT normally write, like how to fall in love with an assexual alien who's allergic to oxygen.
- Stay focused with the Stay Focusd Chrome extension. It actually forces you to focus on your writing task rather than browsing sites that kill productivity and encourages procrastination.
- Got a team you can rely on? If they suffer from writer's block too, you may consider getting together for a brainstorming session. You know what they say: two (or three or half a dozen!) heads are better than one.
- Make it a habit to write ONE page a day. Bonus points if you write more, obviously, but the whole point is to participate in the routine of writing SOMETHING on your computer so that it becomes an efficient habit.