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Combatting the Dreaded Writer’s Block

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

By Adrienne Monestere, Editorial Manager

The Empowered Press

Where Did Writer’s Block come from in the first place? Here’s a little history and five tips to help quell it:

In 1947, American psychoanalyst Dr. Edward Bergler coined the phrase “writer’s block,” theorizing it as a psychological disorder; he believed that an author suffered “oral refusal” because of the condition. Dr. Bergler, armed with clinical studies and facts, believed that psychoanalysis could help cure the shackled psyche, making the writer potent again.

Although psychoanalysis for writer’s block did not take hold, the name certainly did!

Writer’s block, regardless of what skeptics think (including the infamous Stephen King), is a legitimate problem for the imaginative mind. Stimulation of our creative cords is paramount in our fast-moving lives, which have constant distractions that limit the artistic process. And remember, every writer is different. Not every solution works for every writer, but here are some homespun remedies that might help:

1. Read, Read, and Read! This is returning to the basics, back to what implored you to write in the first place. Great books can inspire you to dream again, and dreaming will motivate you to write. The words and flow of great literature can refill your creative cup.

2. Talk to yourself! This might sound crazy, but verbally expelling the stories of your day and what you saw and experienced can have a stimulating effect on your storytelling. Incidents that made you angry or uncomfortable provoke ideas, passion, and imagination.

3. Don’t fight it—embrace it! Tell yourself it’s a brain rest, a time when writers are recalibrating their thoughts, freshening up, so to speak. So, take a break, and rock your brain to sleep. Gaze at the ocean or the stars or sit on a park bench. Take some time to recharge.

4. Pick a word, any word! Words continue to be your friends regardless that they seem to have become disorganized rhythms on your tongue. Pick a random word from a book, news article, or online dictionary and consider its meaning - synonyms, word relationships - even craft a story based on your word. You’re the audience; you are free of the pressure to write well.

5. Write, write and write some more! Some famous authors like Maya Angelou believed that writing during dry spells is better than writing nothing, “I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on a mat, that is that, not a rat,” she said in Writers Dreaming, “And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try…. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘OK. OK, I’ll come.”

When facing writer's block, the main thing to remember is that everything you write doesn’t have to be brilliant. Look at writing as a job, understanding that even if you aren’t aching to work every day, you must. Tenacity and determination will positively influence the duration of that bending brain.

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