Types of Writer’s Block and How to Overcome Them

A ‘lack’ of imagination

“What I fear most, I think, is the death of the imagination.”

― Sylvia Plath

So you start slamming away at those keys, writing your heart out but then you stop. You realise that you’ve read this before. That you are simply rewriting an old tired concept and not even making it better. The fact it that there are millions of novels and the probability of creating something new and never seen or read before is very slim. The key is to make it your own.

When writing, especially a work of fiction, it can be difficult to create a believable world for an audience to become enraptured by. To create a realistic but fictional environment, allowing for suspended disbelief, showing without telling and staying away from that purple prose. It can be a challenge for some and a definite learning curve for most.

You can become hindered by writer’s block due to the fact that you don’t believe in your literary instincts or don’t trust your imagination. We all have them, no matter how minute.

It’s obvious that writing in any form is a mental task and if you have no faith in your writing abilities you will begin to second guess everything you put to paper. This can become a hindrance to your progression very quickly.

I’ve had this issue while attempting to write essays. I start second guessing the structure, syntax, my word choice or most commonly, everything all at once and I become stuck, unable to complete the sentence.

If you believe you have ‘no imagination’ then you will never create an imaginative piece of work. Like anything in life if you think you can’t do something then when it comes down to it you probably won’t succeed due to your current mental state. The mind is a fickle thing.
There isn’t an instantaneous quick fix that I’ve encountered for this problem. Changing your state of mind can certainly be an uphill battle, and it depends wholly on your attitude and approach.
Break the cycle.

“The basis of action is lack of imagination. It is the last resource of those who know not how to dream.”

― Oscar Wilde

Things to try:

  • Breaking the cycle.

Take the initiative and change the outlook you have towards your writing and subsequently your imagination. Take a breath, take a break. Try switching up where and how you are writing. I personally like to relocate, move outside in the fresh air and sun or hunker down in my bedroom while switching from keys and screens to pen and paper.
Compartmentalise and focus your energy on the task at hand. Think positively; Say something positive and your mind will catch up.

  • Discover what inspires you.

Type writers inspire me. Mythology inspires me. The colour green inspires me. Now all of these things aren’t exactly cohesive and won’t help me if I’m writing about, say, the downtrodden folk of 19th century England. Being inspired however, by something directly related to what you are writing about, while helpful isn’t always the case. You can be inspired by something or someone that leads to a light bulb idea relating to your chosen topic.
Explore a little.

  • Create a mood board.

You’re probably thinking “what does a mood board have to do with writing?” and while it may not have a lot to do with writing a novel it has a lot to do with imaginative thinking and constructing a creative mood to allow you to piece together a vision, to see what you might not be able to mentally picture. It might be just out of your reach and the board could give you that final nudge to inspiration.
Get yourself an actual pin board or just an empty space on a wall. Depending on what style or genre you’re writing in, it will obviously differ. If you, for instance, want to write a dark, Gothic piece of work, you would assemble images, colours, landscapes, buildings that to you mean dark, mysterious and Gothic. In the past I have found that having a physical vision in front of me, all consisting of the one idea or theme really helps to inspire and give me knew ideas that I previously wouldn’t have imagined.

  • Read.

Reading inspires writing. It can inspire ideas and concepts, characters and settings. Of course we are talking fiction works here, however in the case of an essay, report or article, reading the equivalent on similar subjects can certainly inspire creativity.
Now I’m not insinuating plagiarism here. My extension English teacher would always say “Steal like an artist”. Draw inspiration from multiple works, not just one.

“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of the Imagination.”

― John Keats200 (25)


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