Writer’s block is a mental state that interferes with your ability to continue or finish a written work. Something happens in your mental or physical environment that interrupts your ability to write freely. The interruption can be brief or long-term depending on your determination understand why you have become stuck and to find a strategy that will put you back into writer’s flow. This article will offer some information on major reasons writers experience blockages and some ideas to conquer writer’s block.
Writer’s block can apply to writing, book creation or the publishing process. It affects most writers at some time or another. Obstacles to your goals present themselves to strengthen your resolve, trigger your creativity, and test your commitment. No writer has published without facing and overcoming obstacles.
The number one culprit to writer’s block is fear. Fear has a paralyzing effect on your progress in anything you set out to accomplish. In the self-publishing context, fear is a mental construct that you call writer’s block. You worry about whether you will fail and allow it to stall your writing and publishing goals. Here’s a truth to overcome what is likely the biggest portion of your writer’s block: Fear is false. Once you acknowledge that fear is imagination used against yourself, you can get busy replacing it with a new mental construct that serves you. For example, there is no failure, only feedback to process. Processing feedback consists of observing the responses of others and adjusting your response. It is a growth tool you’ve used your entire life. You are a professional at processing feedback. Your completed book will generate feedback which will reveal where you can make improvements and affirm things you did well. Feedback assures that you can repeat the process better and faster because you’ve done it before.
Affirmations are an effective strategy for dismantling fear and self-criticisms. Write positive statements about the success of your completed book in present tense. Include the truth about feedback and how you welcome it as messages for how improve as an author. Read it aloud or record it as a voice memo and listen daily to boost your confidence on demand. Daily practice will have a shifting effect on your mindset.
Discipline is guaranteed way move beyond writer’s block. A well written impactful book will require a substantial amount of time and consistency to complete. Discipline involves applying yourself to the task with undivided attention on a schedule until completion. Take inventory of your current of your level of discipline. You may need to redirect your attention and strengthen your concentration skills.
Chances are your attention span is fine and only requires redirection to your goal. A writing schedule could prove to be a helpful discipline tool. Concentration is a higher level of attention, and you may need to employ a strategy to improve your concentrative abilities. Some common tips include reducing multi-tasking, practicing focusing on an object or conversation or environment for a full minute and then increasing to longer periods. Removing distractions before you sit to write is a way to help your concentration. Every action or task that makes you get up from writing, handle them before you settle down to write.
Create a character study: Your main and supporting characters have physical appearances, personalities, flaws, and strengths. When you cannot move forward with the story line, go deeper with an exploration of the personality of your characters. Download our worksheet on character studies.
For non-fiction works, research is an effective way to get past a writing obstruction. It adds to your knowledge base and information mined will open paths to authoritatively present your book content. Bestselling books have similarities. Identify the features of books that you respect and bring those elements of style to your work. Research and character studies often lead to innovative ideas about how to develop and create content that take your readers by surprise.
Master Chaotic Thoughts and Indecision
When you’re all over the place mentally it is nearly impossible to make progress with writing. Mental chaos has been proven to correlate with physical chaos. A clear, orderly writing environment can be conducive to creativity and focus and a disorderly environment can have the opposite effect. If every space your eyes rest on reminds you of things that need to be cleaned, moved, or acted upon, you are likely to tackle those distractions instead of writing. If chaotic thoughts are the result of a chaotic environment, the correct strategy is to create a clutter free writing space. Move items to another place and tackle the clean up after you’ve met your commitment to your writing schedule. The burning desire to clean up may dissipate once the writing is completed. If your home space is too overwhelming to focus, use a coffee house, reading room or library as a writing space.
Indecision is closely aligned with analysis paralysis. It is a space you settle in when you don’t have clarity or like the available options. In self-publishing, it stymies creativity, productivity and is a book graveyard. A strategy to move past indecision is to go with the scenarios. Sometimes you have many options and don’t know which direction to take your writing. Go with what comes up. The idea is to create a flow. You never know where it may lead. Another strategy is to answer ‘What happens if I do? What happens if I don’t?’ The questions can apply to your writing project as a whole or the part you are at impasse with.
Become a Planner
In writing circles, planners and pantsers are categories used to describe authors’ styles. Planners approach writing in a methodical way, while their peers take the fly by the seat of your pants approach. When it comes to the actual writing process, creatives must do what works best for them. The book production process, however, requires planning and adherence to schedules to meet deadlines for book creation, publishing, and marketing. All self-publishing authors must join the planners camp for the book creation and publishing processes.
Book Production Planner. The best strategy to ensure your book reaches readers is to adhere to a schedule that includes tasks, completion milestones and notes. Indie Author App links you to publishing professionals who can help you reach best-selling author rankings.
Eight Ways to Trigger Flow
Flow is the opposite of writer’s block. There are ways to trigger flow to reach your goal. Depending on how you respond to motivation, some of the below strategies may work for you to get inspired to write on purpose.
- Relax. Choose an activity that works best but give 5 minutes to meditation or a body scan release anxiety and tension. The body scan consists of you bringing your attention to the places where your hold tension, your brow, jaw, shoulders, chest, back, legs and feet. Intentionally relax those muscles starting from your head and ending with your feet. This practice can also improve attention and concentration. Try a variety of relaxation techniques including yoga, exercise, painting. If you know what relaxes you best, give yourself that gift.
- Move your body. Dancing is an activity many give up in adulthood. With no judgment and no audience if you prefer, just dance. If dancing is too far outside your comfort zone, exercise can have the same effect. Physical movement may give you the opportunity and shift your mood for writing.
- Watch a movie in the genre of the work you’re writing. You may notice some things that solve a problem in your work. You may find a novel way to present your content.
- Talk it out. When writing personal memoirs, it can be emotionally challenging when you need to write about experiences that deeply affected you. Turn on your phone voice recorder and talk through it.
- Read a book by your favorite author. Immersing yourself in a different story than the one you must write can reduce stress and may inspire you to get back to work.
- Answer 4-5 questions you want your book to deliver to readers. This gives you a handful of topics that you can begin writing about. This will help with concentration.
- Laugh. What cracks you up? It is scientifically proven that laughter decreases stress hormones, releases endorphins promote a sense of well-being. If you feel good, you’re more likely to write.
- Join a writer’s group. This is a highly accountable activity that will improve you as a writer on multiple levels. The commitment to come prepared, actively listen to peers, receive, and give constructive feedback and challenge yourself will increase your technical skills as well as discipline.
The combinations of strategies are unlimited and should be tailored to address the underlying cause of your writer’s block. Conquer this challenge and clear the way for release of your best-selling book. Your audience is waiting. Download Indie Author App today to learn more strategies of successful self-publishing authors. If you have a unique strategy or some combination of tips offered here work well for you, comment on the blog so we can all add to our toolkits for success.