“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.”
- William Faulkner
Is writer's block real?
Many writers who write as an avocation would believe so, but vocational writers, whose next pay check depends upon the words that are put into a manuscript can't afford to have writer's block, and indeed don't have it, as testified by the copywriter/tech writer in our team. This is what she has to say
"The best deterrent to a writer's block is accountability, especially in terms of life-sustenance, and deadlines associated with it. When the client breathes down my neck with a finger on the payment portal, that is the best inspiration I need to write."
For most others, writing may be part of their jobs, and not the entirety of it. To them, the activity can become a chore, and the dreaded block could descend. In such cases here are a few tips to find inspiration.
Visualization: Visualization is considered a vital part of CBT, and typically involves imagining oneself writing like they were Christie or Doyle, or Shelley or Byron, or even Rowling (minus her tweets), complete with ink spot on nose (even when typing into a screen). Some logophiles find such imagery inspiring. One could also visualise the end product of the writing process - a Booker nomination, a publication in a journal that adds a bullet point to the resume, or the royalty deposit in the bank. Our neurotic in-house writer visualises future unemployment when there are no words on the screen, and that motivates her like no other.
Routine: Faulkner had a point. Setting a routine can help kickstart the brain's Broca's area. Routine may be in the form of the place, the computer, the time of day, that cup of coffee in a specific mug, or whatever else rocks your boat. Our writer has a floor table on which rests her computer, and when she sits crosslegged in front of it, and hears the boot-sound of her Mac, she enter's a Buddhaesque state and the words pour out through her fingers, apparently. She, however, needs the unemployment-visualisation to drag herself to sit in front of her floor table.
Breaks: While a routine can be good to get into the flow, too much routine can be demoralising. It's nice to shake things up now and then. It doesn't have to be a monumental change, even small changes from routine can sometimes help dispel that brain fog.
4. Time management: There are a few management techniques such as the Pomodoro, Flowtime, the Eisenhower Principle, the Pareto Principle and so on. These may be googled (or bing'd or duckduckgo'd or whatever be your choice of internet crawling) and the technique that suits your psychology, physiology, and work may be chosen for inspiration.
5. Acknowledging the difficulty: Sometimes the solution to a problem is simply acknowledging it. Writing, from the outside, seems easy. In reality, it is anything but easy. Ernest Hemingway reportedly said "All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." At the risk of sounding clichéd -- no pain, no gain. Usually, the outcome of excruciating effort is satisfying. However, that may not be the case all the time, but the absence of commensurate returns is no reason to give up.
Writing is a skill that can be honed with practice. There are no born-writers, contrary to what people believe. Human beings are born communicators. The medium used for communication can differ based on a person's interest (even passion) and practice.
So, if you want to be a writer, there's nothing else to do but put the fingers on the keyboard (or pen on paper, if you are old fashioned), and keep at it until something gives and the novel or paper or keynote address or presentation is done.
But if you don't want to be a writer, and there's still documents to be written, we are here to help you.