Oddly enough, this article bloomed from a very frustrating stint of writer’s block. As a graduate student, aspiring journalist, and regular writer for The Grit and Grace Project, the onset of writer’s block is quite possibly my worst nightmare. I want to write for a living and am paying thousands of dollars for an education that is designed to teach me how to write better. Yet, I’ve been struggling to hit the keys on my laptop for about a week now.
So, in my effort to make lemonade after being served a very rotten vat of lemons, I decided to work with my block by writing about it. There are a few small tips and tricks I’ve implemented over the years that seem to work in opening the pathways of my brain and letting the words flow through again. For anyone who writes—whether it be fellow journalists, college students, or a tired mom—this is for you!
1. Set the stage.
It may make you giggle, but sometimes all you need to do to lift your writer’s block is to set the mood. Often, the environment you’re in makes all the difference in your writing abilities. You want to be able to concentrate and feel relaxed. I craft an ambiance in my writing space by settling down at my desk near a window (proximity to nature=greater productivity!) and lighting a soft candle. As the wick catches flame, I’ll stream some relaxing music on low volume. My all-time favorite is Enya, but classical music works, too! Depending on the time of day, I will brew some coffee into my special mug and keep it at my desk. All these things combined (except maybe the coffee) make me feel as though I’m in a day spa! The soft strains of music and luxurious smell of the candle immediately ease my body and my brain, slowing down my racing thoughts and allowing me to feel everything I want to say. The music also serves as a barrier between my mind and any outside noises that could distract me. It’s gentle and quiet enough to keep me focused, but not loud enough to disturb me in my own space. This will usually have my fingers flying over the keyboard in no time!
2. Find your voice.
Another writer’s block issue that I deal with occasionally is a feeling of disconnect with my own writing language. When this happens, I feel as though I’ve lost my personal writing voice, the word choice and sentence structure that makes a piece of writing uniquely mine. When this happens, I immerse myself in the works of other authors and poets. I will skim articles and flip through pages of books to remind myself what it’s like to see thoughts organized in a cohesive statement! After all, we learned how to write by reading first.
3. Just get started.
This last method may be the easiest but one of the most effective. I’ve heard it from published writers and my mom. She’s not a writer, but she’s a wise woman! This method is to simply write. With a sheet of paper and a pen, just start writing anything and everything that comes into your head. You can write how you think this spontaneous writing exercise is a little ridiculous or that you’re drooling in anticipation for the roast beef dinner you’re going to have tonight. You may jot down how your hand is cramping, but that you know you need to get the words flowing again to clear your writer’s block. In submitting to a stream of consciousness, you will free your thinking and begin to form sentences.
I would be fibbing if I said I never tried all three methods at once! Writing is a wonderful, tangible extension of what is going on in our hearts and our heads, though sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to get started. As women of grit, we can continue to persevere in our endeavors, even when there are smaller pesky barriers like writer’s block. So let us lift up our pens, stretch our fingers over the keyboard, and write on!
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