Overcoming “The Block”


I don’t mean the reality tv show based around renovating a set of old houses, I mean writer’s block. It happens when you sit in front of your computer and stare blankly at the screen. Maybe you know what you need to write but you just can’t bring yourself to start. Other times it may be that you know you should write something but there is nothing in your head. Is there a systematic method for getting over it? I think so.

What is the trick?

I think the trick is probably different for different people. As it turns out I’m rather disciplined person with a strong will and the capacity to force myself to do thing even when I don’t want to. I can clench my jaw, suppress my feelings and get on with whatever it is I’ve decided needs to be done. I discovered this super power when I had finally had enough of being over weight. I made myself go to the gym and work hard and a forced myself to eat only greens, lean meat and low GI carbohydrates. When I was feeling hungry, when I was craving a pizza, I clenched my jaw and told myself I didn’t need it, that I had consumed enough nutrition for the day, and I pushed on. So I do this when I’m stuck. I just start writing a sentence. Make it into a paragraph and keep going. It often feels awful and I fidget and get easily distracted, but I continue. Sometimes it is like that until I think I’ve done enough. Most of the time I forget that I’m forcing myself and I just get into it. This is the same way I run marathons. I know where the end is and I know that if I put one foot in front of the other enough times, I’ll get there.

What else might work?

I’ve spoken with others and they look at me with pity in their eyes and sometimes a little awe. This is how I know my way is not the only way. When I’ve asked what they do I’ve been surprised and I look at them with pity and sometimes a little awe. It seems other people regain their focus by going for a walk and listening to music or by picking some random topic to research on Wikipedia (or … gasp … in the library). The theory being that you can distract your brain from whatever lock it is in and get it moving toward your goal by subterfuge. Inspiration may hit while reading about the political intricacies of the lead up to the first world war.

Are you stuck? Have you been stuck?
Did you use a different method to what I’ve mentioned? I’d like to hear about it.

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About sjohnhughes

Author, nerd, father, runner and more View all posts by sjohnhughes

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