Writer’s Block: Genesis & Remedies

Have you ever suffered from what Edmund Bergler called “neurotic inhibitions of productivity,” a condition in which you have lost the ability to produce new work or have experienced a creative slowdown? Known as a Writer’s Block, it is a condition, primarily associated with writing, although anyone can suffer from it. Not a result of lack of writing skills, this condition can range from difficulty in coming up with original ideas for a few days to being unable to produce a work for a long time..

Well, if you do suffer from it, then you are in good company. Graham Greene experienced it for six months; Herman Melville, quit writing novels a few years after writing his classic Moby-Dick as a result of this block. Even F. Scott Fitzgerald and Joseph Mitchel complained about it.

Edmund Bergler, being a psychiatrist, believed it to be caused by oral masochism, mothers that bottle fed and an unstable private love life. However, modern research have come up with different explanations ranging from an author’s running out of sheer inspiration on the one hand or produced by adverse circumstances such as relationship breakup, physical illness, financial pressures etc. On the other.

There are many strategies to cope with writer’s block; Graham Greene used Dream Journal to record the ideas he came across during this period of intellectual impasse while Clark suggests class and group discussion, free writing and brainstorming for overcoming writer’s block.  A recent research into the writing techniques of around 2,500 writers discovered a range of solutions from altering the time of day to write and setting deadlines to lowering expectations and using mindfulness meditation.

As a writer who regularly suffers from this “neurotic inhibitions of productivity”, aka Writer’s block, my recommendations would be as follows

  • First things first; evaluate the environment to determine if it is the best condition to work in. Try to find out the best place to work-a small workplace with a window can work wonders to ignite your inspiration.
  • If you are a regular writer but suffering from it for a long period, say six months in a row, better to consult a psychiatrist- there must be something making you anxious
  • Write about something unusual you experienced with the help of any of your five senses today or yesterday or even during the last week-something unusual you saw, smelled, heard etc.
  • Write about something unusual you experienced with the help of your sixth sense recently-yes anything from Dejavu to paranormal experience-a ghost may be?
  • Explain the details of last book you read or reading to your imaginary or real girlfriend in the form of a juicy love letter. May be explain to her the complex theorem
  • Describe the first time you did something-went to school, college or university, started a job, fell in love
  • Write a story about your childhood love which must have been unrequited-doesn’t matter.
  • Start writing the biography of your parents-ask them the details of how they met and married if they are alive. If not, seek the help of your elder siblings.
  • Attempt a fairy tale-yes a fairy tale in which your son/daughter play the leading role. Probably it would be the best birthday gift for them.
  • Why not start writing your own biography-you can purchase software to kick-start and help you in this project.
  • Go to a mall, sit in a coffee shop, order a large cup of coffee and start observing people around you. When the coffee is served, start writing about those people- what they are doing and mostly why they are doing what they are doing. Imagine.

Tailpeice

One of the reasons for the writer’s block is actually procrastination i.e., avoiding to do a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline. It is a habitual or intentional delay of starting or finishing a task despite knowing it might have negative consequences. How to overcome that ?

Brain Tracy in his best-selling book “Eat That Frog” has advocated a simple but I think a very powerful idea which can change the way you work. As you cannot complete all the tasks you list in your “to do” list, Brian Tracy advises us to start with the most unpleasant task, which he calls a frog, and finish it by hook or crook.

Once done, it will not only create confidence in you to complete the less arduous tasks but will also release an immense energy for this purpose. And, believe me, he is 100% right. Just look at the piece of advice he has for you

  • Write down all your goals the night before: The more, the better so that you are motivated if you accomplish more
  • ABCDE Method: Prioritise them in descending order of importance, according to their results.- a b c d e etc.
  • How do you eat an elephant: One bite at a time/breakdown into small segments. Follow the 10/90 rule-spend 10 percent on planning; 90 % on executing
  • Pareto Principle-In every society, 20% are vital few 80% are trivial many. Same with tasks. Out of ten tasks select 2 which are frogs. Eat first in the morning
  • Future orientation: Long term foresight is the key to success. Every day, ask three questions
    • what are my highest value activities?
    • what can I and only I do that, if done well, will make a real difference
    • what is the most valuable use of my time now?
  • Creative Procrastination: Procrastination is not bad; just select less important tasks to procrastinate

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