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April 30, 2010

Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is the scourge of all writers: whether authors of popular fiction, factual content writers or journalists. It’s seemingly random descent can cast doubts on the feasibility of meeting deadlines and cause general unrest. This strange affliction often comes on unprovoked and seems to strike at the most inopportune of moments. Although there is no cure as such (most notably because it is not an ailment per se) there are certainly things that can be done to stimulate the creative zones of your brain back into action to get you back on track.

In many cases, writer’s block is simply an absence of motivation or a prevalence of distractions. Spending too long poring over a written task or spending an inordinate amount of time attempting to re-work or rewrite existing passages can really drain the will to work. Quite simply, writer’s block is generally a side effect of boredom, lack of urgency or pre-occupation. In order to counter this there are a number of techniques, the effectiveness of which is dictated as much by the nature of the individual as it is by the situation.

If you’re unable to complete a piece, article or chapter due to a temporary inability to focus then the first thing to do is step back from the work. Quickly assess your emotions: are you tired, hungry, worried, excited? Although such a seemingly simple, even silly thing to do: by distancing yourself from the task at hand you are more able to focus on the underlying issue. Having established the root of the distraction action can be taken to remedy the problem and regain focus. Obviously time constraints are important here: if you’re exhausted but have a strict deadline then unfortunately short-term remedies such as a boost of caffeine or a brisk walk may be on the agenda. Equally if your distraction spawns from worry about something else then you may not have time to fully address this external problem. A sound alternative in this instance would be to spend a few minutes planning how you will remedy the issue responsible for the distraction once you’ve finished the more urgent writing task- giving you at least some relief and a little more focus.

Some people react well with tight deadlines: others react in the exact opposite manner. The key is to mentally organise yourself in the manner which is most effective for you. If you have no set deadline for completing a task and work best when you do have a deadline then set yourself one! Conversely, if you have a tight deadline but are dwelling on the pressure of completing in time then set yourself smaller deadlines with incremental rewards leading up to completion in the set time.

Writer’s block is a purely mental phenomenon and can be resolved by learning as much as you can about the circumstances in which you work best. Once you know the ideal environment and form of motivation for you then it is easy to go about tailoring the situation to induce maximum productivity.

Written by Jamie Lyons of office supplies Warrington and office supplies Bolton