DickersonBakker Blog

Can You Take a Laxative for Writer’s Block?

Confession time:  I recently had one of the worst bouts of writer’s block in my life.  It was miserable.  Painful, really.  I needed to write a case statement for a client, but I was linguistically constipated.

Over a period of eight days, I did everything but write the case.  Expense reports, emails, client calls, and busy work were my solace.  Sure, I would review my notes, think about the case, and even open my Mac and stare blankly at the empty page.  However, nothing flowed.

I shared the situation with my colleague Brie Wetherbee, our VP of Impact Messaging.  Brie must write every day for our clients.  Writer’s block is an unwanted guest that visits her periodically as well.  She offered five tactics she uses to break the block.

  1. Exercise. Hitting the gym, going for a run or walk, or pulling out the yoga mat can do wonders for your creativity.  In fact, a variety of scientific studies support the relationship between exercise and creativity.  Business Insider recently reported that, “exercise, especially aerobic workouts like running, stimulates something called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which encourages the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus.” If intense exercise is not your thing, a Stanford study found “that person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking.” So when you are stuck, get moving!
  2. Pray. It never hurts to ask for divine intervention! When you pray, don’t just focus on your needs for what you need to write.  Instead, make your request for help, and then move on to other topics such as the needs of others, asking for God’s will to be done on Earth as in Heaven, and praising God for His grace and love.  Broadening your focus beyond your needs can help clear your mind and reset your thoughts.  BTW – It never hurts to ask others to pray for you as well.
  3. Map it out. Head to a whiteboard or flipchart and map out what you need to write.  Take out your colored markers and map it out.  Draw pictures, capture phrases, build an outline.  Standing up and writing on the wall changes your perspective and helps build a springboard to write from.
  4. Find new digs. Sometimes a simple change of environment can make all the difference.  A coffee shop, the local library, a picnic table at the park, or standing at the island in the kitchen are all places that can jumpstart your creative process.
  5. Seek Help. Find a friend, spouse, or colleague to talk it through.  It can even help try to explain it to a child.  Verbally working it out with someone who ask questions, provide encouragement, and share their take on it is a great way to find that anchor idea that serves as textual X-lax.

In fact, that is what broke my writer’s block.

My wife Jen, compassionately told me she had enough of seeing me suffer with this (not to mention my whining about it).  She and talked it through for about 90 minutes one night and immediately afterward, I began to write.  I wrote for nearly two hours straight, knocking out nearly half the case by midnight.  The next day, I completed the first draft and was on the homeward stretch.

Struggling to make your case?  DB&A has a team of experts who craft powerful cases and coach clients to deliver those cases with deftness and impact.  Contact DB&A today.

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