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Coping With Writer’s Block by Sabrina Devonshire

Published on Friday, February 15, 2013 by

Most authors fear writer’s block. Just when words are flowing like a quick-moving stream, a smile’s on your face and you’re certain you must be one of the most inspired and talented writers on the planet, you run smack into that “writer’s block” wall. It’s a big “ouch” every time it happens. If you’ve never experienced this inspiration crash, I can’t say it’ll never happen to you because more than likely it will. What I can do is share my strong opinion that how long you stay and live with that funk is often largely in your control.

It would be wonderful if we could all take a preventative shot for writer’s blocks or pop two aspirins and wake up in the morning to find it had packed it’s bags and moved on. In my world, I’ve found the best medicine for writer’s block to be a well-disciplined body and mind.

Let me touch on some causes of writer’s block—stress and illness are big ones for me. I can be writing furiously only to have a familial conflict, bad review, or head-throbbing migraine send me on a downward spiral. Many writers, including myself, are also a bit manic—they experience weeks of tremendous inspiration and high energy followed by “down” periods of lethargy and dull writing.

There are times in our lives when what’s going on with our personal lives is far more worthy of attention than aiming to hit a daily word count. Balance is everything when it comes to happiness in my opinion—so don’t let your writing become “bigger” than what really matters to you in life. I say give yourself permission not to write when you have other important issues you need to face.

Most of the time, I have no excuse to spend time wallowing in an I-can’t-write funk. Here are some strategies that benefit me and that I hope will help you get back on track:

1)     Get at least an hour of exercise daily. This gets oxygen flowing to your brain and has a calming affect. I find rhythmic activities, such as walking, running, and swimming work best. If you have severe mood fluctuations, increase the duration and intensity of workouts during your down periods if health permits.

2)     Go ahead and write absolute crap and don’t allow yourself to leave your chair for at least an hour. Usually writing quality improves if I stick with it long enough.

3)     Read a book or, even better, listen to a book on CD. This helps me relax and gets a variety of words closer to the “tip” of my brain.

4)     Spend some time outdoors. A peaceful outdoor environment almost always calms me and incites the flow of thoughts.

5)     Carry a notebook or digital recorder. When the creative light bulb goes off, you’ll have a means to record your thoughts and ideas.

6)     Change rooms. Sometimes merely taking my laptop into a different room where it feels less crowded or the lighting is more pleasant improves the quality of my work.

I hope you’ll arm yourselves with these solutions and create some innovative ones of your own so that the next time writer’s block strikes, you can tell it “hasta la vista, baby” before it has time to make itself comfortable.

Sabrina Devonshire, an avid swimmer most of her life, can usually be found near or immersed in a body of water. If she’s not seeking an endorphin rush in a pool, lake or ocean, she’s often encouraging people to work out or writing a book or magazine article. She also loves traveling to off-the-beaten-path places where phones and electronic devices tend not to work well. Peru and Belize are two of her favorites. Sabrina lives in southern Arizona with her husband, two children, and fluffy dog, Sugar. To find out more about Sabrina’s books, follow her on Twitter, visit her website and blog and check out our author interview.


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