how to overcome writer’s block with neuroscience

how to overcome writer’s block with neuroscience

reader comments (20)

  1. great suggestions! i’ve used quite a few of these techniques in the past and they work. for example, letting your brain work on an issue subconsciously. sometimes when you’re trying to force your brain to think about a certain thing, it’s counterproductive. but if you switch to a different task, especially something completely different, often i’ve come up with the idea i needed.

    i also liked the points about just getting started, writing regularly (ideally every day) and writing from a different location (like a coffee shop). on the point about writing from a different location, i’ve found i tend to be most productive when my environment changes often. when i worked primarily from home, i would go to a coffee shop once or twice a week, and sometimes a different coffee shop on different days. now i alternate between my home office and an office i rent. i find it’s helpful to switch things up. on occasion, when the weather permits, i like writing outdoors too, whether in my yard or a park. it can really help to get the ideas going and think about things from a different perspective.

    nice article!

    • thanks todd, i definitely belong to the school of productive procrastination myself. i also find coffee shops ideal for research and first drafts, and quieter locales better for editing and polishing. working outdoors tends to be too distracting for me, or i should say, too relaxing, lol. but if i’m in daydream mode, i can definitely sit and stare at the trees. cheers –

  2. hey kelton!

    i used to suffer from writer’s block a lot when i first started my blogging journey. and being a high school dropout did not help one bit.

    but, the more i educated myself and the more i just wrote, the better i got with my writing skills and at combating this writer’s block.

    you can definitely use neuroscience to improve your creativity and productivity. it’s not hard to hack your brain these days. 😉

    one technique that i have been using to help with this, is the 5-second rule by mel robbins. this is where you count backward from 5 right before you have to tackle a project. since your brain is not really used to counting backward it triggers all these new neurons and you are able to focus a lot better.

    thank you for sharing these tips! super helpful stuff!

    best regards! 😀

  3. i’m a hypnotist who recently decided to work exclusively with writers. i really appreciate this article, particularly this point:

    “utilize your brain’s tendency to work on a problem in the background and produce creative solutions when you least expect them.”

    glad this info is getting out there. i’ve been wondering if writer’s block is just being stuck in a beta-dominant state of mind, when the writer really just needs to be in alpha?

    thanks for writing this!

    p.s. check out youtube videos of elephant’s painting.

    • a pleasure, thanks for reading. i’d be interested to know what you conclude on brainwave research and writing therapy.

      and i’ve absolutely seen elephants painting, it’s pretty cool 🙂

  4. in my opinion the best, and possibly only way to effectively combat writer’s block is to put the proverbial pen down (after all, we all type now, right), put on your jacket, and head off for a half-hour walk. the therapeutic effects alone of this simple practice are enough to get the neurons firing on all cylinders again.

    a little time in the fresh air also has countless other physical and mental advantages as well.

    • you’re in good company. charles dickens and henry miller both used to wander around europe trying to “get lost.” they were both rather prolific.

  5. great tips!

    very true indeed… at least in my experience!
    i would add stress as another factor contributing to writer’s block!

    • very interesting read.

      i think that most writers who’ve been writing for some period of time and depend on writing for their livelihood, probably have a reasonably reliable technique to overcome writer’s block.

      in my case, it’s a combination of things that have already been mentioned. but the main ingredient is to just start writing something. i’m definitely not in the toni morrison camp of “not trying to write through it”. i’d get nothing done if i didn’t force myself.

      i’ve developed some mind-maps that are basically outlines of structure for various types of writing i do frequently. for the maps, i’ve used pen and paper, index cards, software – doesn’t really matter. visually seeing the structure and essentially “filling in the blanks” to get an outline has worked great for me.

      changing environments (by taking a walk, for example), work well too.

      thanks the article!

  6. my biggest solution is having a shower or picking up my knitting. for some reason, the process of washing my hair or working on a craft project always kicks the creative part of my brain into gear and then i’ll get a new insight about whatever writing i’m working on. which in all fairness is fine when i’m knitting – i can put it down and pick up a pen – but it gets a bit irritating when i have a burst of inspiration in the shower and i have nothing to write with!

  7. this is really interesting, and it makes a lot of sense! as a freelance writer, i find myself dealing with writer’s block quite a bit, and sometimes the only way to get rid of it is to walk away from the computer and do something completely unrelated to my work, like folding laundry or reading a book. i appreciate that you acknowledge writer’s block exists, because some writers have this attitude that it’s just an excuse, and i knew that couldn’t be true!

  8. thank you for all the great information. i havn’t been writing too long and my mother died a couple of months ago which resulted in my brain closing down. i am ready to get going again physically but the brain is just not responding so will be attempting a few of your suggestions.

  9. a great read. the constant pressure to write and create can be stressful – i’ve found going for walks or doing sports always helps changing my mind. approaching a task with a fresh mind is a game changer.

    productivity tools such as trello or asana also help me focus on smaller achievable tasks and gives me a daily sense of progression to overcome writers’ block.

  10. thanks for the valuable piece of content! for me, the best way to sparkle your inspiration is to do something that you have never done before. do you know your neighbours well enough? what if they have something to share with you that you’ve never known before?

  11. this is why i’m so glad i got my ba in psychology as well as english. it has informed my writing in so many ways, especially when it comes to marketing.

  12. hey kelton,

    i loved the insights you have on how to overcome writer’s block, sometimes the brain just needs some time to think and when it’s working for too long, it’s difficult to get something out of it. taking breaks every now and then refreshes the mind and suddenly you are filled with ideas and the quote from seth godin, it was life-changing. i started using the speech-to-text option on my phone and my life has never been easier ever before.

    also, the fact that sometimes you need a change of environment to be more productive is looked upon by many people but it does help a lot. you never know where you can get an inspiration from.

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