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  • June 14, 2022 6 min read

    Does writer’s block exist in the same realm as dragons and unicorns, considered nothing more than a myth? Writers seem to be divided when it comes to answering this question, and there’s an abundance of opinions on this matter. Some people claim it’s not true—that what others call writer’s block is simply a form of anxiety born out of fear or pressure to produce something great. The rest swear that it’s a real and crippling thing, rendering them unable to write anything or come up with ideas. 

    Regardless of what we choose to call it or whether we believe it exists or not, one thing is undeniable: anybody in the business of writing has experienced the inability to write at one point or another. It could be for a lot of different reasons—burn out or, like mentioned earlier, anxiety over what you’re trying to create—among other things. 

    But what if you’re just trying to write in your journal? For moments where you’re stumped and have no idea as you sit down for some journaling time, here are 6 things to mull over to help you overcome the infamous writer’s block. 


    1. Remove the need for perfection. 

    School takes up a huge chunk of our lives, and nearly all of our writing activities while in it are graded. Aspects of it are nitpicked by teachers, parents, and even our peers: they check spelling, grammar, vocabulary, fluency, and other criteria depending on what it’s for. This can make any type of writing feel like an assignment we need to turn in, which means it has to be good. Since we’ve been conditioned to think that there’s always a grade at stake, we want to do great. Therefore, our output can’t be anything less than perfect. 

    One of the reasons we may find it difficult to put our thoughts down on paper is because we’re getting ready to “perform”: we may not realize it at times, but thinking of the best way to begin, what words to use, how we’re going to write down what we’re thinking, and various other factors can cripple us and leave us stuck as we attempt to make our writing “presentable”—even if we’re just journaling! That being said, unless we’re actually writing for school (or work), the first mindset shift we want to accomplish is getting rid of the need to be perfect. 

    The reason many of us take up journaling is to have a means to speak our innermost thoughts without the fear of being judged, but if we’re hung up on making everything we write flawless, then we may end up filtering our thoughts and feelings. The result is an edited version of what we truly want to say, which defeats the purpose of such a practice. Therefore, we need to let go of the need to write a perfect entry. Instead, we should focus on being as truthful as possible. 


    2. Let yourself go: write about anything and everything. 

    For a lot of folks who are journaling for the first time, it can be daunting to stare down at a blank page with the intention to write down your most honest thoughts and feelings. Barring the endless, unfiltered conversation that we have with ourselves inside our own heads, as a civilized society, the norm is for us to hold back: we talk in certain ways and talk about certain things because that’s what we learned to do. At best we’re careful with our words, but at worst we tend to be uptight—faced with the freedom to say whatever we want, it’s completely understandable for us to find ourselves at a loss in such a situation. 

    Since your journal is for your eyes only, it’s ok to let go. Written in the infamous diary of the late Anne Frank is this: “...paper has more patience than people.” And it’s true! The pages of your own journal will “listen” to whatever you write with patience and no judgment so be true to yourself and write what your heart desires. It can be about anything and everything—the world will be none the wiser. As for you? You will feel liberated and more focused as soon as you get things down on paper. 


    3. Limit distractions. 

    Admittedly, especially when we’re not paying attention, many of us can become our own distraction. In fact, a lot of things that tend to divert and prevent us from getting certain tasks done are ones that we can get rid of—only, we don’t. Therefore, sometimes we think we can’t write when in reality, there are too many distractions around us. When we pay attention to them instead of concentrating on what we’re trying to do, writing something as simple as a journal entry can become challenging. 

    Often, the key to writer’s block is focus: if you can’t eliminate them completely, limit the distractions that make it harder for you to focus on anything. It doesn’t have to be a week-long retreat to the mountains (though wouldn’t that be awesome?) or complete isolation in a windowless room to achieve this: it can be as simple as tidying up your workspace, turning off notifications on your phone, or officially blocking off a few minutes to an hour from your schedule. 

    Looking for specific ways to do this? We compiled a few helpful tips to eliminate distractions in our previous blog post here


    4. Turn it into a routine. 

    Did you know that Haruki Murakami, well known author of Kafka on the Shore and Norwegian Wood—among many other amazing books—spends five to six hours a day just writing? When  he’s in the process of creating a novel, he shares“The repetition itself becomes the important thing.” He turns the entire thing into a ritual, functioning at clockwork so he can “reach a deeper state of mind.” 

    Additionally, Murakami says, “In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation.”

    How many routines do you go through each day, and all without noticing you do them? If you pause and think of a few right now, you’ll probably come up with more than you think. If we approach journaling this way by turning it into a routine, then all we have to do in the future is go through the motions of our day: no need for writer’s block since we’ve conditioned ourselves to sit down and write during a specific time and it will be easy and natural from there. 


    5. Make it a habit.  

    Part of turning an activity into a daily ritual is by making it a habit. Constant repetition turns anything into a routine. If we ever want to journal with ease without worrying about writer’s block, then we have to try and do it every day without fail. 

    As in any new habit though, it’s not always going to be a piece of cake—but that’s what habit trackers are for! They allow you to see the progress you’re making, which is important because of what we call the progress principle: seeing ourselves making headway can impact our motivation, creative output, and even well-being. So when you use a habit tracker, every time you cross out a date to indicate a successful habit chain, you’re not just recognizing a small win; you’re actually motivating yourself and helping your own progress further. 

    Still not convinced a habit tracker can help? Here are four reasons why you should consider one now.


    6. Live your life. 

    If despite everything you’re still trying to write down something in your journal, then consider this: how long ago since you spent time outside with family and friends or in nature? What kinds of activities have you been doing? Is there anything happening in your life? Because if your answer is, I don’t know and no, nothing’s happening in my life, then it may be some of the reasons why you’re incapable of journaling. 

    Some people live in the pages of their journal instead of outside in the real world where they can experience real things, and because nothing is happening in their lives, they have nothing to write about. Do things that are worth writing about. With so many different events and milestones happening around us, to us, and to other people, it’s nearly impossible not to have anything to pen down in our journal. 



    Regardless of the different opinions people have about writer’s block, it all comes down to the mindset: perhaps people who claim it as untrue have, without even trying, figured out how to keep writing without fail. If this is the case, then surely, everyone else who periodically gets writer’s block can conquer it. 

    Do you consider writer’s block real or not and why? What steps have you personally taken whenever you find yourself unable to write so you can get back in the flow again? Share it with us below—we’d love to hear from you! 

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