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How to clear your head before writing

Every writer’s worst nightmare is the extremely frustrating and dreaded writer’s block. This condition, characterized by the complete inability to come up with new ideas or write a single word as the blank page sits menacingly before you, has plagued writers throughout history. The causes for it are manifold and range from issues such as stress and pressure to distraction.

Here are a few helpful tips on how to clear your head and overcome writer’s block:

Take a break

Get away from the page and take some time to just breathe, relax and focus on something else for a while. You may even need to take a nap. A tired and overworked mind won’t magically produce the words and the more you try to force it the less you will be capable of coming up with creative ideas.

The saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is very apt when it comes to this issue. To get your creative juices flowing again you may need to allow your mind to focus on other things so that you’re able to come back to the task with renewed vigour and determination. If you’re not having fun you’re not going to feel inspired.

Get rid of the distractions

Figure out what type of environment is ideal for you to write in. Everyone is different and no one’s process will be exactly the same. Some people require total silence and other’s may need a little background music. Find out what works for you. Once you’ve figured it out get away from things that tend to distract you and make it easy to procrastinate.

This also goes for mental distractions. Allow yourself to ignore every other issue that may be weighing on your mind and just be totally present in the task of writing. Think of it as closing all the unnecessary tabs on your mental browser.

Let go of the fear

Mindfully recognise your feelings of fear, pressure, anxiety and stress and let them go by putting things into perspective. Don’t place undue pressure on yourself by trying to be the next George R.R. Martin or J.K. Rowling and stop making mountains out of molehills. Overanalysing and overthinking will only make you feel paralysed and will only lead to mental burnout. Be positive, stop wallowing in self pity and just write.

Create a framework

You don’t necessarily have to start from the beginning. Think about what you’re wanting to convey and write down keywords, lists and phrases so that you can build around them. Sometimes you have to start with the concept before you have the content.

Think of it like an exam where your mind goes blank on a specific question. In order to finish the test it’s always best to skip it, go on to the next question and come back to it.

Go with the flow

Don’t pressure yourself with perfectionism. Just go with the flow and write what comes up. You can always go over everything later and tweak and adjust things. Sometimes all you need to break through is simply to begin, even if the beginning is rough and will eventually be scrapped. At the end of the day, the only way to overcome writer’s block is by writing, no matter what that looks like in the beginning. The puzzle pieces and fragments will all eventually come together. As the great Maya Angelou once said: “I suppose I do get ‘blocked’ sometimes but I don’t like to call it that. That seems to give it more power than I want it to have. What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’ you know. And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’”

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Written by Taryn Hill

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