If you want to be successful in any writing career, the key is in writing every day, even when you aren’t feeling inspired. Every now and then we all feel creatively blocked, and it’s easy to believe you’re stuck waiting for that burst of inspiration to return so you can write.
More often than not, that feeling of creative block is just something you need to push past, and waiting won’t help. Time spent waiting is also time you can’t be working or improving your writing.
By teaching yourself that you can write despite feeling blocked, there’ll be nothing to hold you back. You can start to work on jumpstarting your creativity by doing a few small things.
1. Warm Up First
Athletes warm up before they prepare to make use of muscles they’ve spent years training, and your brain and creativity sometimes need the same care.
Try setting aside whatever you’re working on and dedicate a little bit of time to just warming up. Start by writing whatever comes to mind, without any particular goal or focus on making a point. Instead, just get your fingers and brain working together.
Don’t worry about trying to meet any word count goals during this process. Just write a pure stream of consciousness until you feel ready to move on, or until you’ve completed the thought.
Some people also find that warming up by reading something they particularly enjoy, or even by retyping something they’ve written in the past just to get themselves in the right mindset.
2. Write in Sprints to Help Motivate Yourself
Writing sprints are a popular technique among both novice and veteran writers.
Often, sitting down to write is very emotional. The prospect of writing all day can be daunting, and maybe you struggled with what you were writing the day before, or you fear that you’re not going to be able to write as much or with as much creativity as you need to.
Get out of that mindset by trying sprints. Writing sprints are all about working in easy ten minute blocks. Ten minutes isn’t so long, and it’s a simple way to get yourself past the anxiety of starting a long day of writing.
So, once you’ve warmed up, decide what you’re going to write and settle in. Set a timer for ten minutes and during that time, focus just on writing. When the timer goes off, stop what you’re doing, even if you’re in the middle of a sentence, and give yourself five minutes off.
The more you write doing these sprints, the more comfortable you’ll feel. You may find that your anxiety fades, and after a little while you might be able to transition out of doing sprints, but the point is that you’re writing either way.
3. Block Out Distractions
If you’re still having a hard time getting into writing, you might want to consider getting rid of any potential distractions. Close out any social media sites or extraneous programs on your computer. Make sure you have plenty of light and fresh water so you’re comfortable.
If you can, close the door to the room you’re writing in as well. You can try turning on some instrumental, soothing music that doesn’t require much focus, or you might want to turn off the music entirely until you can handle the distraction.
There are a few helpful programs if you find yourself being distracted, too. The word processor Q10 will maximize over your entire monitor, hiding even your taskbar. The black background of the program might even help you relax.
4. Keep it Low Pressure
Anxiety is a big factor when you’re dealing with this kind of creative block.
You want to get your writing done, but remember there’s no sense in beating yourself up about it if you’re having a hard time. Sometimes it’s important to let your mind wander for a little bit to release some of the built up anxiety and let your creativity flow.
You might want to try getting outside for a short walk or even just closing your eyes and meditating for a little while. Do whatever you need to in order to relieve the pressure so you can come back to writing feeling relaxed.
5. Motivate Yourself
Sometimes you might need to give yourself a little pep talk. There’s nothing wrong with reminding yourself of the good things you’ve written in the past, or taking a short break to read something you find inspirational.
You might even find that your favorite author has talked about getting through these inspiration blocks before. Often, just reading about other people’s experience can be a huge help.
Remember, every author who’s ever written anything has dealt with creativity problems similar to what you’re facing. Everyone struggles. The successful writers are the ones who have practiced hard and learned how to keep writing, so don’t give up.