Everyone who writes regularly knows the feeling of a complete and utter lack of inspiration. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional or an amateur, we are all faced by this uncomfortable feeling of not knowing what to write about, or how to continue a piece that we’ve written. Every idea feels unoriginal, every word feels off, and every sentence feels like a pre-schooler wrote it. It’s the pressure of a blank space, of that impatiently blinking cursor awaiting you to fill the page with beautifully written, coherent words. It’s intimidating. It makes you feel like any word you type is inadequate and nothing you do is good enough, especially if you’re as perfectionistic in writing as I am. And often, when we’re faced by this feeling, we decide to put it off. We procrastinate. We think ‘it will come to me later’. And then the deadline arrives and we’re still looking at that same empty page. Or worse, you don’t have a deadline to force you to sit down and write, which causes you to let a brilliant idea slip through your fingers.
I am of course talking about writer’s block. I had writer’s block about what to write for this article myself, which let me to this topic. Ironic, huh? A member of Writer’s Block with writer’s block. I goes to show that everyone experiences writer’s block at some point. You have to admit, it’s a great name for this feeling, isn’t it? It’s like there’s this block in the middle of the road that stops the writer in their tracks. It’s impenetrable and it’s too big to get over or around. It’s an obstacle that stands in between the writer and their brilliant idea or burst of inspiration, and no matter how hard you push against it or try to overcome it, it remains unmovable and in your way. It’s like that feeling of having a word on the tip of your tongue that you’re not quite able to reach. The harder you try to remember, the further away the word seems to get. Only once you give up trying to recall it does it come to you. Writer’s block is the same way; the harder you fight against it, the harder writing becomes. You can’t keep kicking and screaming at that obstacle blocking your path. You have to take a step back, take a break from trying to overcome it and look at it from a distance. Only then will you be able to see that small, hidden side path that goes around this block in the road.
There are a few things you can do when you’re dealing with writer’s block, and continuously staring at that blank page isn’t one of them. Instead, if you’re truly uninspired, take a break. When I say break, I don’t mean procrastinate or putting it off for another day, I mean an actual short break. If you know yourself to be a procrastinator it might be useful to set a time for your break, or to set a writing goal, like reaching a certain word count or finishing your introduction. It’s important to do something that relaxes you when you take a break. Maybe go for a walk to clear your head or talk to friends. Talking to others is generally a good idea when you’re truly stuck on what to write. You can bounce ideas off each other, and it might just lead you to some brilliant idea or inspire you. Personally, if I’m truly stuck and my friends are busy, I change the font type to Comic Sans. Ugly, I know, but there is a whole science behind this letter type. It works well for people with dyslexia and it is simply easier to write something when the letter type doesn’t look too official. I’ve written many first drafts for academic essays in this font and I have to say, it really works for me. Another thing I like to do is listen to classical music to help me focus. I’d recommend listening to the hour long track of Experience by Ludovico Einaudi (thank you TikTok).
I’m going to be honest; these little snippets of advice won’t always work. It’s a good idea to try and it does work some of the time, but truth is, there’s no easy solution to writer’s block. Writing, whether it’s a creative story or an academic essay, is a creative process and there will always be days where you just feel uninspired. However, I’d like to remind every writer out there of this piece of heartfelt advice from me to you: your writing does not have to be perfect. It’s a first draft, and no matter how terrible it is when you start, it’s good to remind yourself that this is not your final product. If you want to make a vase with pottery, you first have to start with a lump clay; this is your first draft. Only after you work the clay, shape it and detail it to your liking will it become the beautiful vase you envisioned. You can’t create that vase without first having a lump of clay to work with. Likewise, you can’t create a beautiful piece of writing without first having words on the page to edit. It doesn’t matter that the first words you write are grey and shapeless because you will shape it and bring it to life later on. Your first draft is just there to get you started, so just write. Write the most cringy sentences and fall into cliché tropes. Write anything that comes to mind, it’s just you and the page. No one will see it until you want them to, so write without thinking of how it will sound to others. You have to start somewhere, so just write.
We all have to deal with writer’s block from time to time, and there is nothing wrong with that. Writing isn’t easy and we simply don’t feel inspired to write every second of every day. It will be frustrating and there will be days where you look at what you’ve written and decide that it’s just not good, but that’s what editing is for. Even if you’re having the worst day and feel like inspiration is playing a game of hide and seek with you, just write a sentence or two. It may not be much, but you’ve put something on the page and not everyone can bring themselves to do that. It doesn’t matter if it’s crappy or if you delete it the next day, you have to start somewhere. The most important thing to do when writer’s block is kicking your ass is to be kind to yourself but also to sit yourself down and just write.