Writer’s block is my greatest enemy. As someone who writes for a living, my paycheck depends on both my creativity and my ability to churn out ideas and write articles (as well as books). In other words, if I don’t write – I don’t get paid. But writer’s block happens to everyone; even the greatest authors suffer from this temporarily crippling condition at times. Stephen King once confessed, “I’d never had writer’s block before. I wasn’t even sure it really existed. I thought it was just other writers being lazy. Then for the first time ever, the words refused to come.” Fortunately, there are ways to beat the beast.
Schedule –One of the pros (and cons, depending on how you look at it) of being a writer is not having a set schedule. While this can be convenient in the sense that you don’t have to report to the office every morning at a set time and have more freedom and leisure time, it also can make it hard to be disciplined and to focus. Author Graham Greene stressed the importance of setting aside a specific block of time on a regular basis specifically for the sake of writing. This means turning off the TV and other distractions, leaving your phone in the other room, and just concentrating your attention on the computer screen, typewriter (or if you’re super old school), notebook that is sitting in front of you.
Greene’s rule of thumb was writing 500 words per day – not a word more and not a word less. Even if you’re not happy with the quality of the content that you’re producing, at least you’re producing something – and it’s a lot easier to change words that are on paper and make them better as opposed to having nothing in front of you to work with in the first place.
Travel – They say that a change of environment will often do you good and this can also be applied to writing. When I was in Thailand a few years ago visiting my father, I was suddenly flooded with inspiration coming at me from all corners: beautiful sights, sounds and adventures; encounters with new people; an exotic culture amidst a bustling Southeast Asian metropolis. I was so inspired by my new surroundings that I even started a novel and wrote a hundred pages in less than ten days. Even if you don’t have the time or the funds to leave the country, you can always plan a short road trip or a mini staycation, which will still yield similar results.
Multiple Projects – Just because your creativity is lacking in one area doesn’t mean that you should stop producing content all-around. Sometimes it’s wise to take a break from one project and continue on another one that has been sitting on the backburner, like that novel that you started two years ago. That can serve as your outlet and escape from the mundane, which will keep things interesting and decrease the likelihood of any of your projects becoming stale. Or you can start an entirely new project as well, whether it be in the form of that screenplay you’ve always talked about writing or simply scribbling down some short stories and poems on topics that interest you. The most important thing to keep in mind is that as long as you’re writing, you’re making strides in the right direction. As author H. Jackson Brown Jr. once said, “Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.”