So one thing that seems to be the most common question I get from others is how a writer deals with Writer’s Block. But if you think about it, Writer’s Block doesn’t only apply to writers. That’s just a more specific term. I think it’s the same thing as any time your brain is fried from doing a mental activity of any sort, and you feel like you’ve got nothing left up there in order to continue with the project. So what do you do?
For me, this is pretty easy. I stop writing. The brain is like every other muscle in your body. If you don’t exercise it, it gets weak. If you work it too much, it gets sore.
So I stop. I take a break and do something physical. As I left teaching English in the public school for teaching Martial Arts in the dojo, I get plenty of opportunity to exercise and clear my head. I highly recommend to anyone who gets writer’s block to do some physical exercise, especially one that gives you a sense of balance and focus. Yoga, Martial Arts, and Tai Chi are a few that I think are best for such things.
After I’ve taken a break, I go back to my computer and open up my manuscript to where I left off. I’ll go back and read the previous chapter and up to where I’ve stopped. It may take a few minutes, but often, my fingers will start slowly punching one key at a time, and eventually pick up the pace again. Other times, I’ve still got nothing. So I turn off the computer and continue my vacation from it.
And sometimes you just need to shut your mind off completely. Go play a video game or watch your favorite movie or a baseball game. I for one enjoy playing with my kids. We’ll go outside and have a catch, or play a card game. I also love backpacking, but I currently live in Florida where it’s humid, flat and swampy where I prefer cool, mountainous and wooded, so my pack and gear haven’t gotten out much. But if you live anywhere near woods with hiking trails, man, if anything recharges your writer’s batteries, it’s that!
Now, if your “block” is preventing you from doing your actual day-job, then clearly you don’t get to just stop and go home. However, are you allowed to take a five or ten minute break? Can you step outside and do some breathing exercises? Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose for five seconds, breathe out through your mouth for seven seconds. Make sure the air you inhale expands your stomach before your chest. Or, if you can’t take a quick break, does your job require you to attend to more than one responsibility? Perhaps, if you work in an office, your brain is fried from doing one task, but you can take a break from that one thing and do a completely different task for a while. This kind of tricks your mind into thinking it’s getting that break it needs.
Again, it’s very helpful to enroll yourself into some sort of physical activity after working hours, and be sure to get a good night’s sleep as well. If nothing helps, and you’re getting that block at work too often, it may be time to schedule a vacation where you can remove yourself from everything and spend a week relaxing and pampering yourself.
One other tip, and this is during your “vacation from writing:” you have no idea when the writer’s block will end and an idea on how to continue will pop in your head. It could be when you’re driving home from work. It could be while you’re cleaning your bathroom. So my advice is to make use of that digital recorder on your phone. When the idea hits you, pull that sucker out, hit “record” and start talking about the idea. It really bites when the idea hits you, and hours go by until you get to sit down at your computer and pull up your document, and you blink with a blank expression on your face thinking, “Crap! I HAD something earlier and now I can’t remember what it was!”