Writer’s Block: Turning Dead Time into Productive Time

writers block turning dead time into productive time

Every writer knows that writer’s block sucks and that it is inevitable. Luckily, in this guest post, writer Vince Guaglione shares some tips that he uses to get through writer’s block much quicker, and get right back to writing.

At one time or another most of us have experienced that dreaded writer’s block. We’re moving along at a fast clip, patting ourselves on the back for being so productive, basking in the warmth and fuzziness we feel inside when everything is so right in our world, and then the bottom drops out. We hit that spot where the words just stop flowing; the concepts become foreign; and the ideas have dried up. We can no longer find our way from point A to point B, and our world has come to a dead stop. The dreaded writer’s block has returned and it has come back with a vengeance. So how do we find our way out?

How Writer’s Block Affects Us

Writer’s block strikes each of us differently. It may not always manifest itself as a complete inability to put words to the page, as it does for many of us. But it also rears its ugly head in the following ways:

  • The inability to complete a scene, a verse, an essay, or any other piece of writing because something such as a transition or continuance is missing
  • The writing is moving at a much slower pace because of a lack of coherence
  • A concept has been plotted, outlined, and ready to go but starting on the actual writing is impossible
  • Absolutely nothing is moving in our heads and we can’t even jot down one sentence

I’ve experienced all of these types of blocks in the past, and will experience them again in the future, without question. But how I’ve handle being blocked in the past versus how I handle it today makes all the difference in how quickly I get back on track.

What is causing the block?

There are lots of things we can do to free ourselves when it happens but for me, dealing the emotional stress that comes with it is a first step. When deep in the throws of the block, I find myself feeling miserable. “Why can’t I get this story going?” “What’s so hard about writing once sentence when I normally churn out paragraphs at a time?” ““Am I fooling myself thinking I can get this piece completed?” “Should I just throw everything in the trash?” Am I really a writer, or not?” These thoughts just make things worse. Yes, I feel horrible, and yes, I need to find a way out. But the quick fixes I’ve tried never work. Here’s a list of what I’ve done in the past to free myself:

  • Give myself a deadline to come up with a fix
  • Force my writing
  • Berate myself
  • Pout

None of these did the job of freeing me from my writer’s block and I’m not surprised. I was going about this the wrong way. Feeling angry, upset, useless, and panicked never allows us to think with a clear head. And that’s exactly what we should be doing when this happens—thinking clearly.

Just Relax

My primary block was that I was very used to generating content, and when I ran out of ideas, I tried wracking my brain to come up with something new. Emotionally, I was on the clock and with each passing hour, day, and week, I was feeling more and more anxious. The more time went by, the more I lost my mind. Thinking clearly was no longer an option.

But in this latest bout with my block, I decided to take a step back and just relax. I let all the stress of being blocked go, and started thinking about cutting myself some slack. I decided I wasn’t going to try to write because past failures in forcing my way out never yielded the desired results. Instead, I decided to try to do a few new things to occupy my time.

First, I had to give myself permission to not write. That in itself was probably the hardest part of this exercise. Once I had given myself permission to write whenever I felt like doing so, and never at any other time, did I start feeling calmer and more relaxed. Instead of writing, I used the time to update my website, put a little more time into social media marketing, made a number of new author connections using Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, fostered those connections by interacting with those authors online, joined a few new online writing communities, reached out to fans who have read my works to solicit input on how I could improve my writing, experimented with doing some different types of writing that I was fine with throwing away, but most of all, spending lots of time experiencing and enjoy life.

That last point, in my mind, is the most important. There are times when we, as writers, cannot peel ourselves away from our keyboards. That’s understandable. But sometimes, taking that much needed time to enjoy life is what renews us, reinvigorates us, and allows those creative juices to flow from us once again.

Final Words

In summation, it’s important to recognize the block for what it is—a temporary condition. There’s no need to give it any more fuel by being angry or by panicking over it. Recognize that it happens to all of us, and never be so hard on yourself. Process your emotions surrounding it by asking what it is about experiencing writer’s block that bothers you the most, then give yourself some time to let it settle.

Use the time to experiment to find out what works for you.  But most importantly, disconnect from the work and reconnect with life. It won’t be long before you find yourself free once again, and the ideas and words flow begin to flow as they once did.

Vince Guaglione is a guy who asks lots of questions, not only of himself but of his society and the world around him. The core of Vince’s work lives in the personal transformation genre, but he also writes short fiction and dark poetry. His Narratives collection of works can best be described as his unique brand of personal journaling focusing on humanism, consciousness and thought, philosophy, and self-discovery. Originally from Philadelphia PA, Vince now resides in Raleigh NC. 

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