The most difficult thing for a writer to do sometimes is to actually start writing. Doubts can creep into our heads and consume us. We begin to think, “They are not going to like it,” “They are going to tear it apart,” or “They are not going to be moved by my words, and my words will lose their power.” Even though we know that feedback and criticism will only help us improve, we cannot prevent these pesky thoughts from entering our minds. We want to be perfect.
When you are experiencing writer’s block, here are a few things you can do to refocus:
1. Do your research
The best thing to do when you receive a writing assignment is to do your research. Whether you are writing a research paper, a personal blog, or an assignment for work, it is important to do your research. Identify the objective. Start asking questions. Get immersed in your topic. Once you do that, it is time to sit in front of your computer or get your pen and paper and start writing.
2. Take a step back
However, sometimes, doing your research is not enough. You sit in front of your computer, stare at a blank Google document, lightly hover your fingers over the keyboard, and you have nothing. This blank Google document you are staring at is like a blank canvas. You can see something emerging from the emptiness, something bold, unique, personalized: a story. But, none of the words you conjure up seems worthy of inscribing on this blank document. You keep writing and rewriting, but nothing is left on the page. Your nerves have gotten to you. So, it is time for phase two.
Take a step back. I know it seems ironic, but do anything but think about writing or your topic. Watch TV. Go out with friends. Get your mind off of the writing topic. Sometimes, by distracting yourself from the writing, you are able to come back with a new perspective, big idea, or universal truth. If that happens to you, come back, sit in front of your computer or paper, and try writing again.
3. Go back to the basics
If taking a step back does not work, it is time to go back to the basics. That is, go back to things that bring you comfort. This might be a blank piece of paper and a cheap Bic pen. Or sitting in a comfortable place like your bed. Or maybe your comfort thing has nothing to do with getting in the writing mood. Whatever it is, just do that thing. Clear your head and put your pen or fingers on your keyboard and just let the creativity flow.
With all those thoughts swirling in your head and the feeling that you cannot put them into words, it is best to take a deep breath and just write. Write like no one will ever read it. Not even yourself or else you will begin to criticize and scrutinize every sentence and every word until you have nothing.
If writing is your passion and you are experiencing writer’s block, don’t let your nerves get to you. Follow these simple steps and just write. Even if your idea doesn’t make sense, if you think it is too bold, or not bold enough, just write.
—Maria Tsangarakis, Account Executive