How to remove writing blocks when you are stressed
Even writers get blocked.
Even writers stare at a blank screen and feel stressed by not being able to move past thinking and staring to hitting the keys and writing with flow and abandon.
When you have a deadline looming or a few empty slots to fill in your scheduling tool – that can cause paralysing stress.
You can feel it deep in your gut. A discomfort that might make you feel slightly nauseous or even a fuzzy feeling in your head – or our thoughts spinning out of control, creating one horror scenario after the next.
You might even have a list of topics that you want to write about, but you just can’t get the first words down. Or you write half a sentence and then discard it immediately.
This is a day when words are not flowing.
The question is – can you move past your writing block?
But, let’s take a step back…
The mental health foundation defines stress as:
Stress is our body's response to pressure
Stress has an impact on how our bodies and minds function. It can have an impact on your thinking and how well your brain works because anxiety and stress use up mental resources.
As a result, you may feel that you cannot think clearly and experience brain fog.
You might not be able to learn and retain information.
You might not be able to be creative and get your mind into a state of flow.
And that means – you are experiencing writing blocks.
Now, there are ways of overcoming these blocks and in this article, I will dive a little deeper into the correlation between stress and writing.
Are you experiencing writing blocks right now? Then stop for a few moments and indulge me…
Stop and feel into yourself. Ask yourself the following questions:
And the big question:
What causes you to feel stressed about writing?
Answering these questions can be extremely useful to figure out what causes your stress and writing blocks so that you can take action and remove them!
We all react to stress differently – and that means that we need to approach our writing blocks differently too.
Let’s look into three different scenarios that might block you from writing.
If this is the case for you, then you might experience your mind racing at a thousand miles an hour. You have entered a hyper problem-solving mode where you are thinking 20 steps ahead (all quite catastrophic and about how things can go wrong).
That makes you unable to focus on content creation as you are thinking of all the things that could go wrong and the negative consequences that will cause.
You are in a fearful or anxious state that not only switches off your creative mind but also your rational mind.
You are not only thinking about not being able to write this one blog post – you are already thinking about your business failing because your content marketing system is collapsing!
If that’s you, then try the following:
Rational thinking and being able to rely on a process and resources that work for you are great ways to calm your mind.
Anchor yourself in boring processes to remove your panic triggers and…
When you do that, you enter a totally rational phase where you can prepare yourself for the creative part by getting everything into place so that you can only focus on the writing – and have something to write about.
You will find that you have “rationalised” yourself out of hyper-drive and have prepared everything to create an amazing piece of content.
You’ve set yourself up for writing success!
When you are experiencing a rational dead-end, your creative juices have left you and your ability to brainstorm is blocked. You may have a list of topics but can’t ideate. You might even have content prompts but they feel flat, misaligned, and too generic to even warrant any of your brain power. Or maybe you overthink the prompt and get stuck at square one.
Your stress is not causing a flurry of doom scenarios but rather a feeling of being stuck and doubting yourself and your ability to create content.
In this situation, you want to move past your mindset barriers and move into a creative state. There are a few things that you can do:
I find this scenario to be simpler to solve because the stress you feel about not being able to ideate is lower than the outright panic that you might feel in scenario #1.
Having a few go-to techniques can even avoid stress altogether because you know how you can move past this creative block.
This scenario sits somewhere between the two previous scenarios. You are already halfway “there”. You do well with writing planned content, have some processes and systems in place, and follow a routine but you are caught out when you have to write an ad hoc piece of content that you haven’t been able to plan.
You already have some processes and systems but run into problems when you have to improvise or be spontaneous.
In this case, you can do the following:
With that knowledge, you can develop the missing systems and processes so that you won’t get trapped in this situation again.
But in that particular moment – follow similar steps to Scenario #1 or #2 depending on how this particular obstacle makes you feel. That will get you to a rational place from which you can follow a process and move into creative mode as needed in the process.
When you are aware of the gaps (this could be a process or a writing technique etc.), then you can focus on filling them so that this situation doesn’t reoccur.
Your stress is caused more by having a gap in your process rather than not knowing how to write or how to ideate.
Next time you get stuck while creating content, observe yourself and identify which scenario applies to your situation.
Once you know where you stand, you can start working on the solution.
One solution that’s always available to you is to join The Word Distillery where you can learn all you need to know to move past your writer’s block when it threatens to derail your writing.