Have you ever been in a situation where you are writing a story or an essay for a school project, and then suddenly, you run out of ideas? Nothing you write seems to fit in with the contents of the events or that you feel like there is no definite path that your words and sentences are following.
This phenomenon is often referred to as a writer’s block or slump and can occur in any writer regardless of skill or experience. Getting out of a slump can be one great struggle especially for those who have barely any experience dealing with it. This is why this article is aimed to give individuals advice on how to overcome their writer’s block.
Before we delve any further into how to overcome a writer’s block or slump, it is of great importance to determine the reasons for it. While there are a lot of factors that may affect why an individual experiences a slump, here are the most common reasons that may drive an individual into a slump:
The most prominent reason as to why an individual experiences a slump is due to their lack of self-confidence. Of course, for most well-known writers, this isn’t the case; however, when you look at the ratio of well-known and experienced writers as opposed to young students who just want to pass their subjects, the population tends to be one-sided.
Not having confidence in one’s self can hold back a writer not only in terms of their output but also in their growth as a writer. The lack of confidence also results in a fear of creating something new and unique which can also lead to the individuals running out of ideas and run into a slump.
Another common reason as to why an individual may encounter a slump is because they are dead set on following the rules. Of course, basic grammatical rules still need to be followed, but the rules about conventional writing and the structure of a piece can seriously hinder the creativity of an individual.
As long as you are not writing an academic paper or a piece that requires one to follow a strict structure, you have the freedom to not stick to the rules. While making a piece that follows the rules down to the last period can be very appealing, it leaves little room for creativity and will eventually choke a writer especially if they have little experience in the field.
While being original and introducing novel ideas and concepts can be a great sign of being a good author, it can also lead to a lot of slumps along the way. Being too fixated on the fact that one’s work needs to be original can cause an individual to work at a slower pace than usual as they need to have enough time to create new and novel ideas.
It is completely fine to seek inspiration from other works, as long as you do not rip off of the entire work. Even the best writers can sometimes take inspiration from previous works and integrate them into their own while adding their own flair to the concept.
Some writers, especially those who are just beginning their journey, may develop a sense of thinking where they perceive writing as a linear process. Where one needs to start at the beginning and end at the conclusion. This also happens to be a reason why a lot of writers experience a slump.
Writing linearly offers great fluidity of the events, it can be really difficult to piece together events in your head without writing them down first. This makes writing so much more difficult than it should be for most writers which may ultimately result in a slump.
Running out of ideas, especially when an individual is in a slump can be detrimental to their progress. This is why the first tip in the list is to write, write, and then write some more.
The more possible outcomes and ideas an individual puts into paper, the more they can edit, revise, and improve those ideas. These ideas can then be used to get out of their slump. The more ideas one writes down, the more options they have as to how to progress their work towards completion.
Following the previous tip where you are encouraged to write all the ideas that come into mind, this next tip is one intended to help you from straying from your main objective. Creating a plan and sticking to it means that you need to make a general flow of how the piece progresses.
Sticking to a plan allows you to create and write down ideas that are related to the general plot you had in mind without them straying too far. This enables the work to be flexible and adaptive while also keeping it consistent. It doesn’t need to be very specific; it can even be as vague as planning to make the climax an inner turmoil for the protagonist.
If one’s own imagination and creativity are not enough, it is completely fine to seek inspiration from other things. Be it from a piece of art, a scene from a movie, or the buildup from another piece of literature. However, be sure to still keep your work original and unique when deriving from other sources to avoid any possible cases of plagiarism.
Seeking inspiration from other works is a great way to get out of a sump as it allows a fresh flow of ideas to run towards one’s mind. Integrating famous tropes while adding new flair to them can also make one’s work have a sense of familiarity while still being unique to the writer.
If searching for inspiration doesn’t work too well, then another step one can take is to look at the bigger picture. Instead of focusing and fretting over the finer details, one can always take a step back and look at the bigger picture and look at what the piece needs plot-wise or structure-wise.
This will enable the writer to gain progress into whatever they are writing as they can determine what the next step is or what is lacking in their writing. The writer can also gauge the fluidity of their work by looking at it on a large scale which will help in the editing process.
If the slump an individual is experiencing comes from writing a piece that includes multiple characters, then a great way out of it is to view the situation from a character’s perspective. Putting yourself in another’s shoes will allow you to better understand the situation at hand and will give you better insight as to what the next events might be.
If what you are writing does not have any characters, then a great alternative is to place yourself in the shoes of the reader. This will allow you to spot any errors or inconsistencies with your work. This will also help you decide what the next sentences should be from the list of ideas you had written earlier.
Working hard is a great sign of devotion to the task, but working too hard can sometimes cause a slump as well. An individual’s productivity starts to drop at about 30 minutes after they have started a task, and working past that timer only leads to a steady drop in productivity.
This is why it is important to take a break every now and then to refresh yourself. This can help an individual become much more productive and also helps give an individual a clearer view of what they are writing once they get back to work.
If all else fails and you are tired beyond compare due to stressing over your slump, then why not recharge your body with a quick nap? A 15-minute power nap works wonders when revitalizing a tired and exhausted mind and body. Not only that but naps are just great in general. Naps also allow your brain to work out the possible next sentences subconsciously as your brain tends to still work on a problem even if you have disregarded it.
Finally, when the slump is too difficult to overcome by yourself, you can always ask for another person’s help. Ask a teacher, a friend, a family member, or a classmate about how they get out of slumps or ask for feedback and any ideas they can give about your unfinished work. You can even ask your tutor for some advice regarding the topic or simply take private tuition intended for literature and language.
Asking for help is a great way to get feedback and view a different person’s perspective about your work. It can even shed light on some mistakes you have made and will generally improve one’s writing prowess in the long run.
Everyone has their way of getting over an obstacle. And don’t worry if you do not see any immediate results after following these tips. After all, inspiration and great ideas come at their own pace. All that matters is that you have done your best to get out of the hole you are stuck in.
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