Some writers scoff at the idea of “writer’s block”—that moment when the writer’s brain seems to freeze and the flow of words seems to have turned off like a faucet. Others swear that it’s a real thing, the bane of the writing life.
I tend to think it has more to do with personality than other, more objective, factors. Some are prone to it. Some aren’t.
Since I’m in the latter category, I asked some of my clients who have struggled with writer’s block in one form or another to share how they cope with it. Here’s what they said:
It’s helped me to see my creativity as a finite quantity. Usually I’m so full of ideas…but if I’ve been pouring into, say, freelance clients and my own work is constantly kicked to my B-priority list, writer’s block charges at me a lot faster. For me, writer’s block tends to snuggle up with burnout. Am I feeding my creativity with life-giving activity? Usually the answer is “fat chance” (Janel Breitenstein, author of the upcoming Zondervan release, Permanent Markers: Spiritual Life Skills for Work-in-Progress Families)
When I feel “blocked,” I save my work, turn off the computer, and walk away for a few hours. That’s when I take time to pray over the work and ask for a clear mind and good words (Cindy Sproles, author of What Momma Left Behind).
When I come up dry at the keyboard, it’s usually a sign that I’ve neglected some aspect of creative rest and recreation. Respecting a weekly Sabbath helps prevent this but I also pay attention to it as a “check writer engine” light and back away from the computer. I engage in activities I know recharge me creatively like getting out into nature, watching great movies, reading a gospel, or taking a long nap (Lori Stanley Roeleveld, author of Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus)).
Ever jump started a car by pushing it to get it rolling and then popping the clutch? That’s what I do to overcome writer’s block. Even if I have no idea what to write about, I put my fingers to the keyboard and start typing. Eventually an idea pops up and I take off. Muscle memory overcomes inertia! If that doesn’t work, I take a walk (Lori Hatcher, author of Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible).
When I can’t write new material, I edit what I’ve got. More times than not, it helps me get back into the story and write. If it doesn’t, I close the computer, grab some chocolate, and mumble these words: Tomorrow is another day (Michelle Shocklee, author of the upcoming Under the Tulip Tree).
When I’m feeling blocked, I take a 16-minute nap. It is just long enough to free up my subconscious and not too long to feel groggy. However, my imagination often wakes me up early with a plethora of ideas, and I can’t get back to my computer fast enough (Leslie DeVooght, http://www.lesliedevooght.com).
How about you? How do you prime the pump, so to speak, and get the words and sentences flowing again after a period of blockage?