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Overcoming Writer’s Block

By: Andy Chen

Writing — navigating your narrow raft through a branching river of words, endlessly searching for your ultimate destination. The sun guides you forward until nightfall — there is no moon, there is no light — leaving you at an impasse for what seems like an eternity; this is writer’s block.

Writer’s block stems may stem from four major sources: excessively harsh self-criticism; fear of comparison with other writers; lack of external motivation, like attention and praise; and lack of internal motivation, like the desire to be heard. For most writers, the “disease” represents a state of mind in which inspiration is difficult, if not impossible, to think of.

While it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to overcome momentary writer’s block is to take a break. Anything works — a relaxing shower, fun break with friends, and even a tough workout can serve to both de-stress you and give you future inspiration.

Many writers get stuck on one particular part of their work. It’s natural to seek perfection, but oftentimes, it’s worthwhile to adopt the mindset of a multiple-choice test-taker: circle the hard parts and come back to them later. By doing so, you give yourself the chance to flesh out your writing more and establish a better big-picture idea, which will make finding that perfect word or phrase significantly easier when you come back to it.

Another basic tool that all writers can use — not just those with writer’s block — is an outline or “skeleton.” Essentially, mapping out your ideas on a Google Doc or on paper gives you a better idea of how your various points or story elements are connected.

Lastly, “creativity is a habit” — so try to establish a daily or weekly writing routine. Anything works, so long as you stick to it!

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