Killing Writers Block Before It Kills You

My cousin, Nikolus, who’s in Scotland earning a Masters in poetry, asked me what technique I used for overcoming writers block. “Which type?” I replied.

Since there’s no ONE cause, there’s no ONE answer. As I told Nikie (he'll always be little Nickie to me), I need to know the cause to know the cure. Here are the top 3 types I’ve coached clients on overcoming...see if they sound familiar.

1. CAUSE: Burn Out. You’re exhausted by either working too many hours, straining over a creative project too long, stress in your personal life or just tired of life in general. Thus, your brain has shut down all auxiliary functions beyond survival: no creativity allowed!

CURE: Rest, Rejuvenation and Invisibility. How to achieve this varies per individual, your preferences, your time. Your wallet! Sleep is number one for healing. Spending time being still with nature is another. You have my permission to have NO AGENDA. None. Say no to friends, to appointments, to taking on more responsibilities. Try this for one week. Learn to be invisible to anyone non-critical who wants your time and energy. Save it for yourself.

2. CAUSE: Creative Stewing. You’ve decided on a project or a direction, and now the creative parts of your brain are mulling over the possibilities. This happens periodically during a creative project, as we cycle through chunks of creative inspiration. It often occurs during editing, when you’re trying to assess root problems and best solutions. You can’t *yet see the answers, because your brain hasn’t *yet discovered them.

CURE: Step Away from the Knife. No more slicing and dicing. Your creativity has become a dangerous weapon and you could do harm (to yourself, the work, and maybe to others getting in your way). Better to walk away from the project altogether. Distract yourself with other creative (like music or movies), physical (like gardening or exercising), or mental (like reading a science book) ventures. By expanding your awareness and experience in other areas, you will unconsciously expand your creative ingredients.

3. CAUSE: Creative Paralysis. You’ve worked a piece to death. You have energy and drive and ambition, but absolutely no idea what to do. Stumped, dumfounded, stuck, lost... are common terms to describe how you feel.

CURE: Walk Out. Get up, turn off the computer, or set aside the pen/pencil, and aim for the door. Apply the cure for Creative Stewing. At the same, seek outside input, such as colleagues, critiques, friends. Children. Yes, you heard me. Ever hear that expression “out of the mouths of babes?” Well, kids have unique perspectives and creative impulses that adults have beaten out of themselves while growing up. Animals and nature are also good for shifting your brain back into a creative gear. My favorite prescription for this one: go to the ocean. Water is both healing and relaxing, and it has a way of flooding the energy of the universe into your soul with each wave.

And here's my bonus type of writers block....

4. CAUSE: Not Knowing What to Write.
CURE: Take my writing class. Yes, shameless promotion. So flog me.