To conclude our week-long discussion on writer’s block, we will explore some practical tools to prevent this common issue. Earlier this week, we discussed decision fatigue and how to avoid it. We also touched on alchemy anxiety and how the ‘make bad art’ principle can keep you moving forward. Now, let’s delve into some practical tools to conquer writer’s block.
The first tool is incredibly simple yet challenging to implement: write during your highest energy time. We seldom discuss how everyone has a different biological clock that runs throughout the day, resetting during sleep. Interestingly, not all clocks run the same. People have varying energy levels at different times of the day, hence the concept of ‘morning people’ and ‘night people.’ Essentially, this means some people function better in the morning, while others do so at night. However, there are also individuals who operate best in the middle of the day, morning, or afternoon. It varies for everyone.
If you can identify when you are at your peak energy, you can also determine the best time for you to write. Now, I can already hear the protests: “But Seth, what if I have a job? What if I have responsibilities? What if I have all these tasks to do during that precious time?” The unfortunate reality is that you either have to stop doing those other things, rearrange your life to write during that period, or choose the next best time.
This is one of the challenges of being a writer before going full-time, as you often have to write during non-peak periods. If you’re an early morning person, you can typically rise before work or daily responsibilities begin and get your writing done. However, some people function better late at night, which is fine. You just need to select that time and prioritize writing.
Regardless of when you’re at peak performance, it’s crucial to understand it and develop your writing habit during that period. You’ll find yourself 20-50% more productive, and this productivity will compound over time as you establish a writing routine.
So, how does this relate to writer’s block? As we discussed earlier, writer’s block often stems from decision fatigue. Therefore, we want to ensure we’re writing during peak energy times to minimize decision fatigue.
Our first practical tip is to choose the times of day when you are at your highest energy levels to write. The second tip for overcoming writer’s block is to predetermine what you’re going to write. Make all your decisions beforehand. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re making conscious decisions about what to write next in the middle of your writing.
When writing, we aim to generate flow because it provides the best experience. How do you generate flow? As we’ve previously discussed, you need to ensure that the challenge of what you’re writing and your ability to write it are evenly matched. Additionally, you need clarity in what you’re trying to achieve. Clarity comes from making decisions. If you make these decisions before you sit down to write, you’ll find it easier to get into a flow state.
This is one advantage that heavy plotters have over those who write spontaneously. Because they make so many decisions beforehand, it’s easier for them to enter a flow state and be highly productive. When we make our decisions in advance, there’s no room for writer’s block because we already know what we’re going to do.
Different people have varying comfort levels with pre-making decisions. I prefer to make some decisions ahead of time and allow others to arise spontaneously as I write. However, the important thing is that you are making decisions and doing that work before you sit down to write, so you know where you’re headed.
The third and final tip for overcoming writer’s block is to write more frequently in shorter bursts to establish a habit. One of the most dangerous things about not writing when we have writer’s block is that it reinforces the choice not to write.
Believe it or not, practically everything in life is a choice. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like we have a choice. Sometimes we sit down, stare at a blank page, and think, “I don’t have a choice. I just can’t write.” But that’s not true. You can write about anything, from flying pigs to blue trains climbing hills, or even paint drying. You always have the choice to write.
Reinforcing that choice and maintaining a rhythm of making a positive choice to write is vitally important, especially if you are prone to writer’s block. You might think of it as the difference between lifting for strength and lifting for impressive-looking muscles when you go to the gym. If you’re trying to become strong, you need lots of little reps. If you’re trying to have big muscles, then you want to lift heavy weights. But as writers, we’re not trying to have big muscles. We’re trying to be strong.
So, we need to practice repeatedly. The best way to do that is with shorter reps that reinforce the decision to write over and over again.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Ensure that you’re writing during your high energy times, predetermining what you’re going to write, plotting out as much as is comfortable for you before you get started, and doing it repeatedly. Put in the reps so that you’re reinforcing the positive decision to write every single time.
I’m also curious if you have any ways that you like to overcome writer’s block. If you do, leave me a comment below, and I’ll make sure to respond.
YouTube Video Link: https://youtu.be/2raHRDC8iQs
Thanks for reading and watching.
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