Writer's Block, Creative Slow-Down? Try These Easy (Free) Exercises to Get Back At It

August 11, 2020

My routine has been a bit off lately, albeit for positive reasons. I simply can’t get enough of the outdoors. During the cooler months you’ll find me huddled up in a sad-Rachael-ball on my couch. But the warmer months beckon me toward the sun. What’s more is lately, I experience something reminiscent of guilt from spending voluntary time in front of electronics. Aside from my working hours, I’ve lost all appetite for screen time.

This has certainly altered my ability to produce new writing. But fear not, because I discovered that all I needed was a shift in mindset and medium.

Simply stated, writer’s block is defined as an inability to create or make progress in writing. This is my first time dealing with writer’s block. And realistically, I doubt it’s the last. As a writer and aspiring poet, I anticipate meeting with writer’s block again throughout my lifelong creative endeavors. But that’s okay. Because whether you’re a sun-bum like me or struggling with writer’s block for any other number of reasons, you can have peace knowing that these two simple exercises can help to overcome it.

Walking

This may sound crazy, but walking is a part of my writing process. This works for two reasons. The first is that walking provides time for uninhibited daydreaming, and many of our best ideas can come to us via subconscious thought. The second is that exercise releases dopamine, a feel-good chemical, which can stimulate creative centers in the brain. I now see writing as more than a single moment of expression—but an entire sequence of behaviors in which I must immerse myself, leading up to an expression. Take a leisurely stroll and let your mind wander. (If walks aren’t your thing, maybe try to think of it as an act of self-care or a gift to yourself.)

Switch up the medium

I’m fortunate in my ability to type incredibly quickly. And since I work on a computer, when an idea comes to me, its tempting to quickly open a Word doc and throw a few lines down. However, I’ve started writing more long-hand. I have an obnoxious pile of random, single slips of paper which I now consider my “creative writing stash.” Writing long-hand on single slips of paper is a bit inconvenient, but I absolutely love being able to write wherever I go.

I write while lounging at the beach, sitting on docks at the lake, hanging out on my patio, or even while in the forest or on trails when I’m hiking with my dog Nitro.

Time outdoors is my creative catalyst. (Plus, if you’re lucky, maybe you can get some dog smooches while you’re at it.)

Copy your favorite prose or poetry

This is a good one if you’re feeling especially stumped about the technical aspect of writing. As in, you feel the ideas and feelings bubbling inside, but actually putting them into sentences has you clamming up. Copy a page or two of your favorite short story, novel, or poem by hand. Writing these magical sentences down has the effect of teaching you the invisible craft within the work, much more so than simply reading. You’ll notice things like transitions, dialogue, metaphor, and cadence that you rushed through before.

Tangential but important side note:

I’m baffled by the mask divide, and would like to kindly remind everyone that even while outdoors, everyone (who is physically able) should have a mask handy!

Have you ever had writer’s block? How did you overcome it?

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Photo: Green Chameleon via Unsplash, R. Coker

R. Coker
R. Coker is a legal professional and independent scholar. She enjoys spending time with her animal companions, reading, writing and exercising, especially yoga.

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