We've all experienced it. Staring at a blank notebook page or word document, we have all felt it. Words are simultaneously jumbled in your brain and your brain is also totally empty. It's the feeling I get when there's a pop quiz or I get called on in class. If I was asked the question in casual setting I'd probably whip out the answer, but the minute there are all eyes on me or any form of pressure a loud "ummmmm" gets drawn out of my mouth. I once panicked on a pop quiz and wrote down the death date of a person because I couldn't remember anything else once pressure was applied. Needless to say words fly out of my brain at high speed. Writer's block is when I get that pop-quiz feeling and all I can do is stare at the blank page and say "ummmm."
Sometimes I get writer's block when I have to write an assignment. It is guaranteed to happen if I try and start by writing the title. I cannot title an academic paper to save my own butt. This could be because I have a nasty habit of labeling things "assignment for [insert name of class] 1" or "paper for [insert name of professor]". This habit makes tracking my documents relatively simple but I never get points for creativity.
Writer's block often happens when I have the most thoughts going on in my head. It's like the jumble of thoughts and words and fragments is a pricker bush and inside that bush there is a flower. That flower is the kernel I need to start writing. But I can't get it. I can't quite reach it so I sit there and chase my thoughts around without my fingers ever touching the keyboard.
So how do I overcome the writer's block? I don't. I let it take its hold on me for as long as it needs. There are little things I do to try and get my writing flow back. I can't say if they work or not. But here's the list.
1. Put on a movie
This is rather simple. We all have that one movie that we've seen countless times that gets our thoughts going. Sometimes I need a movie to trigger a certain emotion that I feel stuck on. Sometimes I just need to feel inspired by something outside of the realm of my everyday life. Sometimes I just need a distraction. For any of these reasons I often find myself watching a movie to get unstuck.
2. Stream of consciousness
Something that is tried and true to help get the writing flow going is setting a timer and just writing every thought. This thought could be writing "I have nothing to say" over and over again if need be. Stream of conscious writing can help the process of writing get started. There's also a chance that maybe there's an idea that pops out of stream of conscious writing that is the exact starting point you needed.
3. Go for a walk
I love walking. While writing is one of my favorite activities my favorite thing to do that far eclipses writing is walking. I love to put headphones in, sneakers on, and just go. My mind goes faster than my feet and nothing matters but just existing. I often find when I come home from a long walk I can focus the best. I also find that after a walk grabbing an idea and sticking with it is much more like grabbing a flower that's just popped up in the sidewalk-far easier than delving through a pricker bush. This might not work for everyone and sometimes a walk isn't always feasible, but this is the best way to get rid of writer's block in my opinion.
4. Organize your thoughts
Sometimes when writer's block occurs it can be helpful to make a list or mind map. Not being able to get organized or being overwhelmed by a paper in its totality can be at the heart of writer's block. Getting a list of points to hit in the piece of writing or even just making a flowchart of ideas can make a world of difference.