Unblocking creativity

Published September 9, 2023
Illustration by Faraz Ahmed
Illustration by Faraz Ahmed

Exploring the triggers of writer’s block and the tips to overcome it

If you’re on an incredible journey to become a writer, you probably have many famous authors in your mind, who’ve left you awe-inspired with their words. You read their books and it’s like a fire lighting up inside your heart, urging you to be just like them someday. You’re fuelled by passion, always writing, always practicing.

Slowly but gradually, you conquer milestones and it feels amazing. But here’s the twist — every writer, whether budding or a pro, hits a bump on the road. It’s a tricky, hard-to-put-into-words roadblock, with moments when you feel like, “Ugh, what’s happening?”

You feel stuck, like your writing has taken a sudden coffee break.

Yep, you guessed it right — I am talking about that pesky thing called writer’s block. It’s like a wall that appears suddenly, keeping your brilliant ideas from making it to paper. It can be frustrating, confusing and downright annoying.

But you’re not alone. Every writer has been through it. Let’s tackle writer’s block by breaking it down and figure out what it is, why it happens and, most importantly, how to send it packing so you can get back to doing what you love — writing your heart out!

THINGS THAT LEAD TO WRITER’S BLOCK

Held back by fear

Fear can be a big, invisible wall that stops you from writing freely. It can take different forms, like a shape-shifting monster in your imagination. One type of fear is the fear of failure. It’s when you worry that your writing won’t turn out as great as you hoped. This fear can make you doubt your skills and feel anxious about what others might think.

Another fear is the fear of criticism. It happens when you’re excited to share your writing, but then you start worrying about what people will say. You might hold back and try to make everything perfect to avoid negative comments.

And, believe it or not, some people even fear success. Success can bring pressure and high expectations, making it a bit scary. But it’s okay to feel these fears sometimes. They’re like clouds passing by in your creative sky.

Trying to be too perfect

Sometimes, when you’re writing, you want everything to be just right — no mistakes, everything in its perfect place. It’s like aiming for the gold medal in writing!

But when you always want things to be perfect, you can start being super hard on yourself. You become your own toughest judge, always looking for tiny mistakes. This can make you keep changing your work over and over, thinking too much and then getting stuck. It’s like you’re trying to make your writing so perfect that it stops you from writing at all!

Feeling super-stressed

Sometimes, life can be really overwhelming, right? You’ve got school stuff, family and friend stuff, and a bunch of other things to worry about. So, when you’re trying to write, this stress can sneak in and make it tough. It’s like having a cloud over your head that stops you from thinking clearly and being creative. Stress is like a big roadblock that gets in the way of your writing flow.

Illustration by Sumbul
Illustration by Sumbul

When inspiration takes a vacation

Inspiration is your trusty map guiding you through your journey of writing adventure. But sometimes, that magical map seems to vanish into thin air. There are a few reasons why this happens. First, if you work too hard or try to do many writing tasks at once, you can get something called ‘burnout.’ In this, your brain gets super tired and inspiration runs away.

Another reason is monotony, when you’re doing the same kind of writing every single day, the same routine can become a creativity killer. Moreover, family, friends or health problems can also kick out the inspiration to write from your life, leaving you feeling all empty and uninspired.

Writer’s block in academia

This term specifically applies to the challenges faced by individuals engaged in academic writing and research. In academia, producing well-researched and coherent written work is a fundamental requirement, and writer’s block can significantly impede progress in this regard.

One can have several adverse effects, including delays in completing assignments, decreased research productivity, and increased stress and anxiety. It can also impact the quality of the work produced, you may struggle to express your ideas effectively or to meet deadlines. When this happens, it can really mess up your school or college experience, making your grades go down and leaving you feeling stressed out. It’s like having a big problem that you need to fix quickly and carefully, so that you can get back on track with your studies.

TIPS TO OVERCOME WRITER’S BLOCK

Whether you’re writing for your passion or tackling academic assignments, here’s a simple step-by-step guide to help you overcome writer’s block:

Get into your writing groove

Here is a cool trick to beat writer’s block. Make writing a habit, just like brushing your teeth. See, when you brush your teeth every day, it’s not a big deal, right? You don’t even think about it, you do it automatically. Well, writing can be like that too!

Start by writing a little bit every day; a paragraph about anything that happened that day or that interests you. It might feel strange at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Soon, it’ll be as natural as grabbing your toothbrush in the morning. Writing will be a breeze!

Chat with a friend for a boost

Talking to a friend can be your secret weapon. When you’re having trouble getting your ideas down, or feeling empty, have a chat with a buddy for a little while. Share your thoughts with them.

Sometimes, just talking about what you’re trying to write can help your ideas to start flowing like a river. Plus, your friend might have some awesome suggestions or cool ideas to add.

Discover your best time to shine

Do you feel super creative in the morning when the sun is up? Or maybe your creativity wakes up in the afternoon when the day’s rolling along? Perhaps it could be you’re a night-time creative wizard?

Once you figure out when you feel most creative, use that special time for writing. Your ideas will flow more easily, and it’ll be way more fun.

Ditch distractions

When you’re ready to write, it’s important to create an environment that’s free from distractions. One of the biggest culprits is your phone and other gadgets. To stay focused, consider putting your phone on silent mode or leaving it in another room while you write. If you’re using a computer, there are apps and website blockers that can help you avoid tempting distractions on the internet.

Television and background noise can also pull your attention away from writing. Turn off the TV and choose quiet surroundings. Some people prefer listening to music while they write, and that’s okay too. Just make sure the music isn’t too loud or distracting. Instrumental music or calming sounds can be a good choice.

Explore what excites you

Don’t get stuck on that tough part! If one section of your project feels like a big roadblock, it’s okay to jump over it. Write about something else on any page or diary that you really enjoy or find exciting. When you feel you have come to normal, the words will flow from your pen more easily, you can then start with your original project.

You don’t have to follow your project step-by-step from start to finish. Feel free to work on different parts, even if they’re in a jumbled order, as your first, second or third draft. The key is to get your ideas down. When you’re ready to present your final project, you can organise everything neatly.

Don’t force yourself

Imagine you’re trying to open a jammed jar. If it won’t budge, you don’t keep twisting until your hand hurts, right? You stop and take a break. It’s the same with writing. If the words aren’t flowing, don’t push yourself too hard. It’s okay to step away for a while.

Go do something fun or relaxing. Whatever interests you, but for a short while. Let your brain recharge. When you come back to your writing with a fresh mind, you’ll find it much easier to express your thoughts.

Let your pen run wild

Write freely. Forget about the writing rules. It is one of the best ways to trick your mind into gearing up for writing. All you have to do is start writing whatever pops into your head, even if it seems totally random. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or making it coherent or perfect. Just let your thoughts flow onto the paper.

Think of it as a warm-up exercise for your brain, kind of like stretching before a big game. Free writing helps your mind wake up and gets those creative gears turning.

Find your perfect writing gear

Have you ever tried writing with different tools, like using a fancy pen, a typewriter or a computer? Well, experimenting with different writing tools can be a real game-changer. You never know which of these things will help kick away the block in your way.

Remember, kids, writer’s block is just a normal part of the creative journey. It happens to everyone, whether you’re afraid of what others might say, trying to make everything perfect, feeling stressed, or just lacking inspiration. But instead of seeing it as an impossible obstacle, see it as a challenge you can overcome. So, keep writing, keep dreaming and keep embracing the adventure of words.

Published in Dawn, Young World, September 9th, 2023

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