Hello, and welcome! Let’s explore how you can overcome writer’s block immediately and prevent it from ever happening again!
You are a reader, and many of us are writers. Words are no stranger to us.
Even our thinking comprises words.
Writing is a process that comprises both movement and thinking. As mentioned in the Life Simplified series, the very purpose behind having a brain is likely because of movement. The brain is an evolutionary tool that allows for navigation across various terrains with the aid of sensory organs.
So, this means that there is a very close link between writing and thinking.
In my post on The 3 Deepest Questions on Consciousness, I briefly mentioned the usefulness of writing to stimulate thinking. I have also gone in depth on this connection throughout the Effective Living series. Especially in The Ultimate Guide to Clarity.
Now, we will dive deeper into this connection and explore what insights we uncover.
There are three main points of interest:
- Just Get Started
- How to break out of writer’s block
- Remain Open to What Comes
- Never break your writing flow again
- Know your Personality
- Individualize your writing habits
There is one prerequisite to all of this. That is you must know where you’re starting and where you are going. The more clarity you have around this, the more you can “Just Get Started” and trust the subconscious to fill in the gaps.
Know what idea you want to communicate and what it looks like. The visual is enough. How to articulate it is something that comes during the process of flow and trust.
More concretely: Know your starts and your ends. This is like having the intro and conclusion paragraphs sketched out.
Now, let’s begin.
Just Get Started
Big Idea: Creativity comes from the subconscious, the conscious mind gets in the way.
Basically: Trust in the process.
The first key you can use to overcome writer’s block for good is with getting started.
Writing isn’t necessarily about making clear what you are thinking. It is often more about discovering what you think. You may not know what you think until you try to articulate it.
Writing, whether typing or with a pen and paper. is often at a speed different from your thinking. If you leave your thoughts out of the process, you may find that the words are on the page quicker than you think of them. It is as if you’re just reading what your writing has decided to put down.
There is an important element of trust with this writing process. It is like when you are in a bad mood; you don’t want to go for a walk. But, after going for a brief walk, you feel much better. Trust in the process and let things work themselves out.
The more you try to think before letting your pen move or fingers type, the more likely you will hit a roadblock. This is a negative spiral!
You may hit a roadblock because of overthinking, trying to control the process too much, and then try to fix it by thinking more. It is like trying to fall asleep, realizing you’re not making progress, and trying harder. All along you just needed to let go.
This suggests a glitch in the powers of thinking. There is a point when consciousness itself fails. When you overthink and try to gain control over a natural and very subtle process. I experienced this many times, for example, when I tried to improve my breathing for physical and mental performance. It wasn’t working as quick as I wanted so I tried harder, but this only led to more dysfunctional breathing.
When you trust the writing process and let your thoughts flow. This comes from a state of relaxed awareness. Any attempt to control breaks this relaxed state.
When you trust the process and go with the flow, you often find that the words come naturally. Information comes out that you didn’t originally expect. It is as if you “find” the words.
Now, how does this apply to writer’s block?
The key is in trusting the process.
Here are a few ways to warm up for writing and get in the zone of trusting the process.
- Have a horrible first draft
- Use writing prompts
Give yourself permission to have a terrible first draft. This removes the pressure of your writing and gives you something to use as a foundation. You shouldn’t be staring at a blank page for long. This is vital to overcome writer’s block for good and you can apply it immediately.
If you have the thought that you’re not coming up with content but the page is still blank, then you need to put something down before giving up. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike before writing, just let whatever is on your mind come out, even if unrelated to the topic you’ll later write about.
Exercise: Fill one page with markings, whether drawings or actual words. The key is to not be so focused with what you put down, this isn’t a masterpiece. The idea is to get your hands moving and the juices flowing. Any words or ideas that come up, quickly capture them in a few words somewhere on the page. Gradually lose yourself in the process.
Additionally, you can do something in advance to the day you write. You could do this by capturing ideas to write about in the form of prompts.
Capturing these ideas in a few meaningful sentences when the inspiration strikes can help you recover that motivation when you are at a place you can begin writing.
Another great source of prompts are question forums like Quora. Subscribe to topics of interest that you wish to write about. Then, when you’re wanting to do some writing, look through the recent questions raised on the site. Pick one that sparks an urge to respond.
I also find value in responding to questions myself. Even if at first glance I don’t feel like I have much to say, I later find that my opinion is stronger than I previously thought. I then just use my reply as a writing prompt for my next article.
Exercise: Keep a notebook or an app on your phone that you can use to capture writing prompts. Throughout the day, whenever you feel opinionated about something, capture a few emotion provoking words. It only needs to be meaningful to you, whatever will help you rebuild the idea in as few of words as possible.
Remain Open to What Comes
Big Idea: All knowing comes first from not knowing.
Basically: An open mind allows for big ideas to surface.
If you want to overcome writer’s block for good, then the concept of flow is one you should familiarize yourself with. It is important to be aware of what interrupts this state and your triggers for entering it. Optimize your environment and writing time for more flow.
Flow is a state of optimal performance that feels almost effortless. Many describe this state as resulting in action that doesn’t feel like their own. “My body just knew what to do”, some might say.
The number one flow blocker is overthinking. The actions that promote this state are often actions that occur at a speed faster than your conscious thinking. Therefore, flow is often associated with sports, writing, and art.
The more you try to take control, the more unnatural your movements will be. This is the point where consciousness fails. You have to trust the process.
Trusting the process isn’t easy, the uncomfortable sensations of running can invoke negative thoughts. This is why those who are often artists or individuals that can enter flow easily, are often those with a relaxed personality. They tend to have a meditative state to them.
I’ve explored this thought deeper in The Ultimate Guide to Connection.
Your brain is working on things all the time. You don’t need conscious thought activity for your brain to be coordinating biological functions, like breathing. We need no thought activity for “intuitive” feelings of reflex.
Letting your body and conscious awareness relax allows for the things your brain has been working on to bubble up to your awareness. Ideas form and come to the surface.
It is like working your bicep muscle, the healing process can’t begin until you stop flexing. Once you relax the burn subsides, and repairs can start. If you continue to hold on, you won’t ever allow the body to do what it needs to.
Writing allows what has been simmering in your subconscious to bubble up to your awareness.
Exercise: Do your writing in as continuous of a flow as you can. Save your editing for last. Avoid writing a few sentences then second guessing yourself. Trust what comes out, take a break, then return and edit with a fresh pair of eyes. Know what breaks your flow, such as habits of critiquing your writing while writing.
Know your Personality
Big Idea: Optimize your approach to the creative process through personality patterns.
Basically: Personalities suggest someone’s hobbies and vice versa.
The third step to overcome writer’s block for good is to know the connection your personality has with your writing.
A pattern I notice in those who easily enter flow is their personality. The stereotypical creative type is unusually sensitive. Think of Michael Jackson, for example, or Robin Williams.
Being a sensitive individual is not a bad thing at all, you experience life with a layer of spice that others are blind to. The unfortunate side-effect is that you are overwhelmed easier. The sounds may seem more intense or the energy in a room may feel unbearable.
A lot of humans radiate negative energy. Introverts are individuals that need to “recharge” by emptying their environment of people. Introverts are usually creative individuals and therefore more sensitive. This is no coincidence. Introverts more easily pick up on this energy and get overwhelmed by all the various activity.
To put it simply: The brains of sensitive individuals receive far more information than others. This allows for creativity because it gives more data to make connections with. There is more raw material to form connections, and that is exactly what creativity is: connecting multiple, seemingly unrelated, ideas together.
This abundance of information can be overwhelming.
There is a lot of information coming at you at once and you can’t consciously process it all. You might have an answer or a response but it’s not yet consciously available, thus you may only recognize it later, say, after a conversation with someone.
This is similar to speaking with others. “Speaking out loud” is a popular learning technique because it demands you to make concrete what is in your mind. You don’t know what you’re thinking until you have to articulate it.
The discovery of what you’re thinking may also be why sensitive types gravitate towards writing.
Exercise: Are you more of a Kinesthetic type (learning-by doing)? Then just getting started can go a long way for you. Sitting and thinking may be more difficult to come up with ideas than pairing thinking with movement of some sort, such as writing. Walking may work too!
If movement is how you learn, then to activate your brain you just need to get started.
Big Idea: How you write represents how you speak and how you think. E.g.. Word choice.
Basically: You can influence your unconscious thinking through your conscious writing.
You can overcome writer’s block for good by getting started, remaining open to what comes up, and knowing your personality.
Writing is the most powerful thinking tool there is. Especially for creatives and the sensitive types. It stimulates thinking, similar to a conversation where speaking helps influence ideas and the formation of thoughts. Thinking is a great way to bring things into consciousness, this could very well be a cornerstone of consciousness development.
There are a lot of neat skills that you can develop through writing. A personal example is high vs low level thinking. Separating details from the bigger picture. My desire to improve my reading has demanded that I improve this skill. Starting with a high-level structure of what my writing will be about and then getting more and more granular.
The connections communication has with consciousness itself is something I’ll explore later. There is a lot of interesting insights to be had. Focusing on the formation of something and trusting where it leads could be at the heart of consciousness’s development. Such as creating symbols, words, drawings in the sand, cave art, or other means to express something.
Here’s another interesting topic to explore: How to function optimally as a sensitive type in a world full of noise. This is something that I’ve spent a lot of time navigating. This exploration has been the source of a lot of my insights (e.g. The Ultimate Guide to Challenge).
Stay tuned! (:
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Writing has been a growing passion of mine over the past 6 months. I’ve been doing a lot of research and practice to improve. What insights have you found during your own writing journey? What is your take on the powers of writing? How do you think you can overcome writer’s block for good? Share in the comments section below!
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Don’t put off contemplating what the insights from this article mean, find a quiet location and think deeply about what it might mean for you. Just 10 deliberate minutes can make a large difference, set a timer, do it regularly and you will notice the changes within a few weeks. You improve your ability to think and therefore make effective decisions by spending more time deliberately thinking about the relevant subject. Consider applying journaling and meditation to see more profound changes, these are just more deliberate and concentrated forms of quiet and focused thinking. Slow down, find stillness.
I am always looking to improve my reach and the impact that I have with my writing, please provide your feedback in the comments below.
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