Whether you’re writing your first blog post or you’re an acclaimed novelist, you’ve almost certainly encountered the frustrating phenomenon of writer’s block. And you’ll encounter it again in the future. Depending on your circumstances, writer’s block can ruin an entire session of potential productivity – it’s easy to let procrastination take control. When you’re not feeling inspired, nothing seems right and it’s almost impossible to put words on the page.
The good news is that there are many ways to get around the dreaded and pervasive problem of writer’s block. You probably have some of your own strategies that work for you when your creative juices seem to run dry. These are a few of my favorite ways to court the muse and start writing when I’m feeling uninspired, so I hope they enhance your repertoire and offer you more approaches to solving the problem of writer’s block.
1. The Company You Keep
I know I feel more capable of writing for an extended period of time when I’m surrounded by like-minded people with the determination to keep writing, no matter what. Join a MeetUp group of writers, get some creative friends together, or search for writing groups on Craigslist. You might be surprised at what you can do when you’re in good (and productive) company.
2. Location, Location, Location
Think about the inspiring places you’ve been and see if you can figure out a way to start writing in some of those locations. Bringing a notebook and pen with you is permissible just about anywhere you go, and many places will allow you to bring a laptop if you prefer to type. Just stay aware of your laptop’s battery life if you’re working outdoors, unless you have a solar charger.
I like to write in the following places: art museums, botanical gardens, parks, theaters, local coffee shops, and my artist friend’s studio. Each of these locations inspires me to write even when I’m struggling to come up with a simple string of coherent thoughts. Try writing in the places you turn to for rejuvenation, relaxation, and creative inspiration.
3. Dredging Up the Past
I keep a journal that occasionally offers inspiring ideas or phrases, which can then be turned into “real” writing. You can often find something in your archives that’s worth expanding, so don’t hesitate to take a few minutes and read back over your past writings. If you find a striking idea that can be developed, you’ll gain self-confidence because the idea was yours all along – and that’s a great way to tap into your creativity.
4. Music Makes the World Go ‘Round
Listening to classical music helps me to stay relaxed and focused, which are two conditions that help me write well. Depending on my mood, I’ll choose something slow and soft to get myself into a creative state, or I’ll select a fast-paced instrumental number like Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro overture to wake up and start writing. Music has the power to affect your energy, creativity, and mood, so take advantage of it to improve the conditions that surround your writing process.
I’m also a fan of folk music, both because of the style of the genre and because the lyrics often inspire me. There’s almost always a story or string of prose in a folk song that reminds me of an idea I once had and forgot about – one of those “I should write that down” moments that passed me by. For me, folk music is an effective way to recall previous times of inspiration and writing success.
5. Taking a Deep Breath
Running into writer’s block often stresses me out, triggering anxiety and negative feelings. That state of mind is never conducive to any creative pursuit, so writing after hitting a wall tends to be unproductive unless I change my attitude and decrease the level of stress I’m feeling.
I usually relax with a few minutes of circular breathing, which is a simple exercise that you can try with almost no effort. Just close your eyes, exhale all of the air in your lungs, and use the thumb and fourth finger of your dominant hand to pinch your nostrils closed. Wait a few seconds, then remove your thumb and inhale through the open nostril. Replace your thumb, closing the nostril, and hold your breath. Now, move your fourth finger away and exhale through the other nostril. Repeat this exercise as many times as you need to in order to feel refreshed and stress-free.