How to Overcome Writer's Block.
Updated: Dec 24, 2021
I consider myself a pretty resilient writer. As a working mum, I’ve learned to write anywhere and everywhere. I’ve trained myself to be able to put my laptop down and leave my book midsentence so I can go and help my son save his Lego tower from collapse. I can then pick up my laptop and the sentence once the disaster is averted and continue as though I never stopped. I’ve written in carparks while my son attends sports clubs and Covid prevents me from going inside to watch; I’ve written on Llandudno beach while father and son build a sandcastle; and I’ve written late at night when that’s the only quiet time I can carve out for myself. So, given this imaginative flexibility, why can’t I write when my life gets emotionally turbulent?
I’ve recently discovered that while I’ve become a multitasking queen and can write my way through the busyness of life, I can’t easily write my way through emotional upheaval. When life gets bumpy, my imagination packs up its metaphorical bags and heads to sunnier, friendlier climes – even if Covid regulations prevent me from following.
Is this the same as writers’ block?
I’m not sure… Perhaps it’s more a case of writers’ obstacles.
Whatever it’s called, the effect is the same: a blinking cursor and a blank page.
So, when faced with a complete lack of concentration because your brain insists on wandering elsewhere, how do you get yourself back on track? How do you get yourself back to happily writing at the desk, or beach, or in the car?
In this blog I’m going to give you five practical tips on how to convince your imagination to unpack its bags and become a cooperating part of your psyche once more.
1. Sleep. As tempting as it is to stay up late and try and reconnect with your imagination, it probably isn’t a good idea. Enough sleep, and good quality sleep, is hugely important for concentration. Maintain a good bedtime routine and get that shuteye.
2. Exercise. And aerobic exercise is best. Going for a run is a great way to reboot the system. It gives you some mental space (especially if you get outside) and with that space comes clarity. I actually wrote the start of this blog at the end of a run! I whipped out my phone and recorded my ideas as I headed home. Clearly, unconscious cogs were turning in my brain as I ran and I didn’t even know it! Think you can’t run? Try the ‘Couch to 5k’ app. It’s amazing!
3. Nature. Get outside and spend time in nature. A friend of mine calls this green or blue therapy. Obviously, it depends where you live, but walk through the woods or visit the sea. As John Keats wrote: “Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired, Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea.” That man really was ahead of his time…
4. Mindfulness. This seems to be the buzz word of choice at the moment, but it really is important. Take time out to look after your wellbeing whether that’s through a meditation app or spending 10 minutes on a page of an adult’s colouring book.
5. Stop. Taking a break from your writing doesn’t have to be as drastic as it sounds. For me, stopping writing – the main thing I do for relaxation – was a no goer. But taking a break doesn’t mean you have to stop writing completely. It might mean you stop your WIP but you do a read through of another story you have on the go, or you do some research for a future project. You know the old adage: a change is as good as a rest.
If these five don’t work for you have a read of this article where you can find more advice for aiding your concentration.
If you’re battling your wandering imagination, it might be time to listen to her instead. She’s probably packing her bags for a reason. Like you, she needs a break. Don’t tie her to the desk. Take her for that walk and she’ll like you better for it… and if you do, she’s more likely to stick around and do something you want to do next time.
Happy writing #writing community 😊
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