So you have the fabulous idea to write a book. You sit down at your computer and…NOTHING! You start to write and then you hear the “tap, tap, tap, tap” of the backspace button. The cursor is taunting you as it sits there winking at you off the blank page. UGH!!!! Writer’s Block! I don’t know about you, but I find writer’s block to be so frustrating. And then as you sit there staring blankly at the page, now you begin to get more anxious and frustrated because not only is the page remaining white, but the minutes are now ticking by. Double UGH!!!
Well, the good news is you aren’t alone in this struggle. Authors and songwriters such as the artist who wrote the hit songs “Rolling in the Deep” and “Rumor Has It” Adele, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, and even Herman Melville, the American Novelist from the 1800’s who wrote the classic Moby Dick have all experienced writer’s block.
What causes Writer’s Block?
Scientific studies attribute this phenomena to the shift of the thinking process from the cerebral cortex to the limbic system. To break that down, the creative or free flowing thought processes come from the cerebral cortex part of the brain. When you get pushed into a self preservation or heightened stress situation, you move into the limbic system – which is the fight or flight mode. To put it simply, the creative juices just aren’t flowing!
So the longer you sit there looking at the blank page and start thinking, “I have to come up with something!” “Time is ticking away!” “I am an idiot for thinking I could write anything!” you unknowingly push your brain into a less creative thinking process.
Ideas for Breaking Writer’s Block
So now that you got yourself into this mess, how do you get out of it?
1. Start With a Praise Break and Ask God for Help
As a Christian author, you know that you are in a creative process with The Creator! If you are stuck, begin to get unstuck by praising God. Thank Him for who He is. Thank Him for this calling on your life. Thank Him that He will NEVER leave you or forsake you. Then ask Him for help. Take a deep breath and sit quietly waiting for His response.
2. Expand Your Writing Skills
One way to move into the creative thinking process is by expanding your brain and your skill set. I love how Michael Jordan put it, “Everybody has talent, but ability takes hard work.” The ability to be a good writer means challenging yourself outside of your own manuscript. Challenge yourself with writing prompts. Learn how to use different literary devices. Play with words! Take a deep breath and let go!
This is an interesting book that can help you with this exact thing!
Words Alive! Christian Writers’ Skills & Prompts
3. Drop and Give Me 20!!
You can do that, or any type of exercise! Go for a 15-20 minute walk or do some jumping jacks. Hit the gym…anything to get your blood flowing. Through exercising you will release endorphins which are chemicals that are made in your brain that will naturally relieve pain and stress. This will shift your mind and help break that block.
4. Read What you Have Out-loud
Another way you can begin to move forward is to read what you currently have written out loud. Hearing your words will give you a different perspective and understanding of what you have written so far and could be just the jump-start to connect you into your next thought or chapter.
5. Reset your Goal and Pursue it for the Win!
When the going gets tough, shift your goal – but remain accountable. So for example, if you are writing a non-fiction book, and your original goal was to complete the chapter you were working on, and the words just aren’t coming – adjust your goal. Instead of finishing the chapter, challenge yourself to writing a fictitious example of the principle you are explaining in the book. Pick a point of view and describe the situation in detail. For example, if you are writing a book on rejection, but you are stuck on writing the text, write an fictional excerpt about rejection from the viewpoint of the person being rejected, the person rejecting and others that are impacted. This will stretch your brain to look at your work from a different view point. It might even be useful as an example in your final manuscript!
You broke through Writer’s Block…now keep going!
When you get stuck, don’t stew and beat yourself up. The more stress you put on yourself, the less room you give yourself for creativity and the flowing of thoughts and words. Many times, all it takes is a shift in your mind, your physical space or thoughts to release the dam of writer’s block. Keep your thoughts positive, make the shift and keep doing the great work that God has called you to do!
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Join the Conversation
What are some things you do to break through writer’s block? Please share in the comments below!