We’re Not Doctors, But We Do Have Five Cures for Writer’s Block

Is this your worst nightmare? You sit down at your computer to write a press release, letter, etc. only to find that all you can muster is the uninspired “Dear Henry,” or “Today, OUR COMPANY is pleased to announce…” And after wasting a little time perusing a few of your favorite websites, reading a handful of emails and a finally scheduling that dentist appointment you’ve been avoiding, you return to your document to continue writing, only to discover that you’ve come up empty again! You fall to your knees and, pulling at your hair, yell to no one in particular, “WHAT DO I WRITE?!”

Photo source: Rennett Stowe

Was that too melodramatic? Perhaps. It’s writer’s block, and if it’s not your worst nightmare, it’s most certainly a time-consuming annoyance. Writer’s block happens to everyone. The key to overcoming it is to identify the small things that help reset your mind to open the floodgates. How does one break writer’s block? Here are five tips that can help:

Change position. We sit for a majority of our workdays and in that time it’s easy to forget to get up and move around. A couple of laps outside around the block, or a brisk walk through a different part of the office can help to clear your mind. When you return, don’t sit down. Stand up and work for a while. Not only does this burn more calories, but the change in position can help put you in a new frame of mind.

Nix the distractions. Close your office door (if you have one), turn off your email (<gasp!>) and ignore your phone (who would do that?!) to narrow your focus to the task at hand. By no means do I mean that you should lock yourself away and force the writing. Rather by cutting of the distractions, it can help you hone in on those words for which you’ve been searching.

Let those neurons fire. Writing, whether technical or creative, is an art. The crafting together of language to effect an action or communicate a piece of news and tell a story requires us to exercise the creative portion of our brains. Reset your “right brain” by doing something else creative. Grab your note pad and doodle, build a paper clip sculpture or make up a song. Take ten minutes to be creative in another manner and then return to your writing.

Brain dump. Just write. It doesn’t matter what it’s about. Put a stream of consciousness down on paper – or in most cases, on your preferred word-processor. Write out everything you know about the topic you’re trying to write about. I find that by doing this, I’m eventually left with a working outline of the thoughts and points I’m trying to communicate. As I string these together, I find that I’m crafting the piece I intended to write.

Trade Beyonce for Bach. Many of us listen to music while we work. It energizes us and helps with productivity. However, lyrics can be distracting. Tune into something more serene like classical, solo piano or even spa-type music. These tunes can provide the momentum that you need without distracting lyrics. Build a channel on Pandora, tap into AOL Radio or utilize Spotify to stream the right background music on your computer.

Do you have any tried and true cures for writer’s block? Share them in the comments section.

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