You open up a new Word document, stare at the ‘Document 1 – Microsoft Word’ at the top, and perhaps grumble that the font is set to Calibri, when no sane person would accept your document in Calibri.
Perhaps you’re on WordPress, like me, and you’re thinking of writing a blog post, and you focus in on the ‘Add New Post,’ when suddenly the font increases in size, larger and larger, until you start having a panic attack and believe you’re hallucinating, before finally giving up and checking Facebook.
“Maybe tomorrow,” you say to yourself. “I’ll finally be in the mood to write.”
No, this isn’t procrastinating, not by a long shot. Well, maybe by a short shot…
There are about a million and one pages on the internet talking about writer’s block, and every single person who has ever had to write a novel, a short story, an essay, a business report, a 60,000 word thesis; they’ve all been here at one point or another.
So, let me cut straight to the chase, stop using clichés to illustrate a point, and start talking.
I could give you a list of ways to beat writer’s block, but no doubt you’ve read countless web pages, books and more on the topic.
- Listen to inspiring music
- Take a 15 minute break
- Contact Stephen King for a list of ways to beat writer’s block
- Write whatever crap comes out anyway, even if it’s just writing I can’t write damn it in Comic Sans down the page
- Deal with it and keep persisting
You have to ask yourself: why can’t I write?
Maybe you just don’t feel like it. You’ve worked a ten hour day and, even though you enjoy writing, you’re completely exhausted. Don’t give yourself the excuse of, “But it’s NaNoWriMo and I have to write 2,000 words a day!” Of course you’re going to have writer’s block if you’re busy. Your mind’s elsewhere.
Maybe you’ve got 23 tabs open on your browser, so of course your mind is definitely elsewhere. If you’ve got your Twitter account open and ready to stay connected with other writers, plus the latest Cracked article, several TV Tropes pages, and a Facebook conversation with your friend from Tokyo, then you’re not going to write. Close all the tabs.
These probably sound obvious, but when you have writer’s block, you probably don’t notice. We’re always connected to the internet, so we probably don’t take notice of the fact we’re always multitasking. Unless you don’t care about your work, you really shouldn’t be multitasking like a hyperactive two year old who’s just found your spare supply of red cordial. Ignore me if you’re going for a very fast paced, hyperactive-two-year-old action thriller.
On the other hand, there are some people (maybe you), that go, “Pfft, writer’s block, that’s an excuse for the weak willed. I’ve made myself write 2,000 words a day for six years now.”
If that’s you, good job! Though I’m not sure why you’re reading this post, unless you’re here to have a chuckle. Maybe you’re making a tally of how many “How to beat writer’s block” posts there are on the internet.
However, there are a few simple – well, maybe not that simple – ways to force yourself to write at will. I’ve known people who have forced themselves to write a thousand or so words a day in order to complete a novel. There’s also NaNoWriMo if you need the motivation – I’ve never done this before, but lots of other writers have, and they’ve succeeded.
First and foremost, if I give you a list of tips to beat writer’s block – which I’ve done earlier in this post – you probably won’t follow it. If finishing your goals was as simple as reading a dot point list on them, then I wouldn’t be writing this.
If you want to beat writer’s block: finish reading this blog post and close the tab, and shut down everything else except the Word document, WordPress page or whatever it is you’re using to write.
Turn on some music if you’d like, as long as it’s not something as catchy as Footloose or Gangnam Style, because as catchy as they are, catchy is distracting. Get some nice, non-distracting music or relative silence if you’d prefer.
Stare at that white page. Stare at the ‘Document 13 – Microsoft Word,’ change the font out of Calibri, and beat that evil white page. Persist. Write a few lines of meaningless gibberish. Turn it into something meaningful. Think of something you heard someone say on your train trip this morning, or what your kid said to you at the dinner table. Be inspired.
Maybe you could even write something on the multitude of ‘beating writer’s block’ blog posts there are on the internet.