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How to Overcome the Dreaded Writer’s Block

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A question I sometimes get asked on panels, as well as other podcast interviews is this: how do you overcome the dreaded writer's block? 

First of all - despite the fact that I am a Copywriter, writer's block is something I ain’t immune to either. It happens to even some of the best copywriters in the world.

But you know what I’ve come to realise? After a bit more reading and research into this phenomenon known as writer’s block? I believe the idea of writer’s block is steeped in psychology. 

So in this episode I’m not going to tell you to go going to give you the one magical potion that’s going to cure your writer’s block. Instead? I’m going to dive into the psychology behind why this happens and how you can, through your own assessment and action get yourself outta the block.

Step 1: Pause and Diagnose your Writer’s Block Why. 

When I look at it, one experiences writer’s block likely because of one of the below reasons: perfectionism, fear of rejection, lack of time, exhaustion or lack of structure. 

A 2012 Psychology Today article discusses the challenges of embarking on a new project — in other words, sitting in the chair and staying put.

“The prospect of having to invent an entire world is a little like having the creative responsibilities of God — with none of the superpowers,” the article stated. “The task feels impossible.”

This post refers to the state of flow. Without a sense of flow, writers may feel paralyzed, stagnant in their rut.

Instead of fixating on how to express yourself well, think about expressing yourself freely.

Step 2: Once articulated, work backwards. 

For example, if it’s a lack of structure? Sit down and give yourself 5-10 minutes to write down a high level outline. If it’s a blog, leave your headline last and focus on: “what is the one big takeaway or question you want to answer?” And then dive into 2-4 subheadings underneath that would go to answering that big question. 

If it’s exhaustion? Then I’d probably say take a nap. Even if it’s 15 minutes. And by the way there are some serious cognitive advantages and health benefits about napping. Unlike 85% of mammals there are in the world, we only sleep once a day. Scientists aren’t sure if we’re naturally monophasic (as opposed to polyphasic) or if it’s modern society that has made us so. Either way with the fast moving world around us it seems as though a lot of us don’t have even sleep.

But a power nap can alleviate our so called sleep deficiencies. It can boost our boost our brains, and science has shown it can help us become better creative problem solvers, as well as  better our verbal memory..

It’s important to know and define what a power nap is though. This is(usually between 1-4pm lasting up to 30 minutes. Anything longer you’ll go into sleep inertia, which is that groggy feeling you get. And you have no idea what year it is. This is no joke. A study conducted by NASA also confirmed these benefits. 747 pilots was allowed allowed to nap for 40 minutes during the day, sleeping on average for 25.8 minutes (which is just about right). Those who did "demonstrated vigilance performance improvements from 16% in median reaction time to 34% in lapses compared to the No-Rest Group."

Oh and if it’s something to do with your fear of rejection? Ask yourself - what’s the worst thing that can happen/