Writer’s block is a topic that millions of writers, including me, have already discussed countless times. However, it happens repeatedly to all of us so it’s important that we continue talking about it.
Now that I’m back to writing and posting regularly, the Podcast is also back! Every 2 weeks I will post an episode. I will alternate episodes between topics that have to do with writing trends/ideas and topics that will help beginners learn how to become successful freelance writers.
For this week I wanted to see what approach famous authors’ take when they have a bad case of writer’s block. I read an article titled ‘5 Famous Authors’ Strategies for Conquering Writer’s Block’ written by Nicole Bianchi.
Maya Angelou is the first author that is discussed. Her approach is actually similar to an approach I have previously discussed here on my blog. Her approach was to ‘just write.’ Even if you do not like what you are writing or how it turns out in the end, continue to write every single day. Eventually, after staying consistent you will have a breakthrough and begin to enjoy the content that you are writing.
The next author that this article discusses is Neil Gaiman, who has a different strategy when it comes to finding motivation. He actually suggests that you should push your writing to the side for a few days. After a few days have passed, he then suggests sitting down and re-read your writing from the very beginning.
His logic behind this approach is that after you have had some distance from your writing, you will be more enthusiastic and gain some clarity that you didn’t have before. He also encourages writers to make notes about anything that they want to change as they are re-reading their work.
I have also mentioned this approach in a past post as well. If I am writing a fiction story, this is my go-to strategy to not only break writer’s block but also to make me feel excited about what I’m writing again. When I read my story from the very beginning, it puts me back into a headspace that makes the story feel real and helps me to think of what I would like to read next.
The next author mentioned is Mark Twain, whose go-to strategy is giving me flashbacks to my High School English class all over again. He was a big proponent of writing an outline. His thought process behind this strategy is that if you take this big, overwhelming idea you have for a story, and break it down into doable, reasonable tasks, then the project feels a lot less overwhelming.
In a sense, an outline is almost like a step-by-step list of how you would like to write your story, and it’s an excellent starting point to getting rid of your writer’s block.
Ernest Hemingway had a unique strategy that I can’t say I’ve ever heard of before. He suggests saving some of your ideas so that you don’t ‘exhaust’ your energy. If you’re in the middle of writing and you feel like everything has been flowing smoothly, and you know what events will take place next, stop writing.
Hemingway’s strategy behind this is that by utilizing this technique, you are allowing your story to be placed in the hands of your subconscious. If you run out of ideas and spend the remainder of your day worrying about coming up with new ideas so you’ll have something to write the next day, you’ll exhaust your brain. In other words, you’ll feel burnt out instead of excited to pick back up where you left off the next day.
Lastly, Hilary Mantel suggests a similar approach to Gaiman. She suggests that if you are sitting at your desk writing, and you start to become overwhelmed, then you should remove yourself from the environment you are writing in. You can go for a walk, meditate, or partake in any hobby that you enjoy doing, but you need to engage in a different calming task. Her philosophy behind this is that you need to create space in your mind for new ideas to populate.
Out of all of these approaches, I find Hemingway’s the most abstract, but when I give it further thought, it makes sense!
The takeaway here is that almost every single writer has experienced writer’s block at one point or another. Most of my friends and family are burnt out at this point. With so much going on around us, I think that things like burnout and writer’s block are more prevalent than ever.
On top of that, today’s culture places a huge emphasis on grind culture and the idea that if you’re not constantly working, then it’s pure laziness or failure on your end. That’s simply not true. Every person needs rest, including you.
Comment down below and let me know what your strategies are for getting through writer’s block.