How to Overcome Writer's Block

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Writing is an amazing skill and we all have personal reasons for choosing to write, but what happens when there is little or no motivation to produce new content?

In this article, I will be sharing my experience with writer's block and how to overcome it.

What is Writer's Block?

Writer's block is a state of a writer being unmotivated to write, produce new content, or experiencing a creative slowdown.

Are these thoughts familiar?

  • Oh! my last post did not even get reactions

  • X writes so well, I could never do that!

  • I have lost my writing skill, the topic and words are crap!

My experience with Writer's Block

So in the month of October, I had a long break from writing, an unintended break. I was preparing for a proposal soI had to give my time solely to it plus a whole lot was going on in my country (Nigeria) with the END SARS campaign against Police brutality.

Trust me, I had the topic ideas all over the place but it was either the words were not flowing or I did not even want to start. I was experiencing some real burn out and acknowledged I needed to rest. After resting for some weeks, there was still no motivation to write, felt intimidated, and thought the writing skill was gone.

Fortunately, I was invited to speak at the Hashnode Technical Writing Bootcamp on "How to overcome Writer's block as a beginner dev blogger", the same thing I was going through. Preparing for this talk helped me overcome my phase of writer's block which I will be sharing but let's look at some generic causes of writer's block.

Icebreaker activity: Think of a topic idea and pen it down.

Causes of Writer's Block

  • Self Criticism and Doubt: This is one of the common causes and I believe every writer experiences this. When you constantly criticize your efforts and contents due to some reason, it can cause that unintended break because doubt comes in and suddenly you no longer want to continue.

  • Burnout: Just like my case, you could be experiencing burnout. Tiredness or fatigue from so much work could make you less motivated to write. Writing is a creative activity involving the brain and if your body is tired, it will definitely affect you.

  • Perfectionism: Perfectionism in this context is forming the habit of looking for the perfect words or topic idea for your content or blog post. Over time, it begins to affect your creativity. It creates this contact pressure to be in competition with other writers.

  • Lack of Motivation: This could be internal or external. Internal lack of motivation can be due to a lack of desire to keep telling your story, lack of confidence in your abilities, or even impostor syndrome External could result from less attention to your blog posts as per reactions, less or no feedback, or even praise. This is very common amongst beginner bloggers. It can slowly lead to writer's block.

Only writers experience writer's block, so say it out loud to yourself: I am a writer

How to Overcome Writer's Block

Note it reads overcome and not avoid! Here's are some tips that helped me overcome my phase of writer's block.

  • Find your Cause and Deal with it

A great first step is knowing what the problem is, figure out what is causing what you are experiencing. After knowing the cause, you begin dealing with it. Is it burnout? you need proper rest to refresh. Depending on the cause, different remedies!

No pressure, relax! Remember you are a writer that's why you are experiencing this.

  • Balance your inner critic

Inner critic refers to an inner voice that judges criticizes or demeans a person. Why balance? Sometimes your inner critic helps you improve on your content (some typos, make your article more accessible) making you a better writer but in the case where those thoughts like I am not good enough come in or I can never write so good, chase it away. Develop a healthy mind. Look at your previous articles, appreciate your progress and growth.

Remember Positive words here!

  • Be Vocal, talk to someone

Do not underestimate the power of sharing your challenges with someone if you can. Every writer will or have experienced writer's block. Ask questions, get views on how they started theirs, get motivated and inspired by their stories or a favorite writer or your friends. You can also get accountability from a friend or someone to help you break off or release your next amazing content.

  • Write yourself out of it

I feel the need to scream this! Write, sit down, write yourself out of this phase. Don't think of how perfect it is, just write! Break off. Remember no pressure, just let the words flow, don't bother yourself if it is not the best topic idea.

I put up an icebreaker activity earlier, write on that topic you just penned down or you can write about what motivates you to blog or curate content, then pin it where you'd see it.

This blog post was inspired by the talk I gave at the Hashnode Technical Writing Bootcamp, you can find my slides here.

After this talk, three days later I published an article breaking off from the writer's block phase and you can too!

Feel free to share this with your network and share your thoughts in the comment section!

Thanks for reading!

Mohd Shad Mirza's photo

Great article. I have found that starting small, very small helps too. Instead of waiting for motivation, we can just start with anything and get that little push. Once we have enough momentum, it becomes much easier to get going.

So instead of thinking, I have to write 1500 words article. I choose to write one para with 3-4 lines. That breaks the cycle of motivation and helps me keep writing.😄

Ruth Ikegah's photo

Thanks! I totally agree!

Victoria Lo's photo

Wonderful article thanks for sharing Ruth! Writers definitely get a lot of those from time to time. It's always good to stop and look at why one is experiencing the block instead of ignoring it :)

Amarachi Emmanuela Azubuike's photo

Great one here Ruth. The tips you shared are practical and truly helpful. Thanks for sharing.

Ruth Ikegah's photo

I am glad it was helpful!

Choukouriyah M. A. ARINLOYE's photo

Thank You for this helpful article. Well done!