“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people”
—Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades
Minutes tick by on the clock as you stare helplessly at the screen. You will the words to come, but your mind is as blank as the page in front of you—a common phenomenon known as writer’s block. I’m experiencing that exact feeling writing this now, so at the very least, I can reassure you that you’re not alone. I can also reassure the both of us that writer’s block is not a personal failure.
What is writer’s block?
The term “writer’s block” was coined by Austrian psychiatrist Dr. Edmund Bergler in 1947. However, the curse long predates that—even great writers like Ernest Hemingway and Leo Tolstoy were not spared from it. Writing can be an intimidating process, especially with an audience. It requires not only linguistic abilities, but also creative imagination.
With the countless permutations of ways something can be written, it’s no surprise that writer’s block has afflicted people across centuries. To date, there have been over a million words invented in the English language, with an estimated 171,476 that are currently in use, generating endless possibilities along with endless headaches.
Finding the source of (un)motivation
In the 1970s and 80s, Yale University psychologists Jerome Singer and Michael Barrios studied a mixed bag of writers and found four roots of creative blocks: anxiety, interpersonal dilemmas, apathy, and anger. Any of these sound familiar?
The Cambridge dictionary defines the writer’s block as “the condition of being unable to create a piece of written work because something in your mind prevents you from doing it.” When self-doubt and external criticism loom over our heads, they can sap our mental and emotional energy to the point of burnout.
So how do we get rid of writer’s block? From one writer to another, here are a few ways you can guide yourself out of that creative rut.
1. Clear your mental space
Just as a cluttered workspace can be counterproductive, allowing too many ideas to live rent-free in your head can achieve the same effect. Sometimes, the key is getting them out of your head. Writer’s block is like a clogged shower drain—except instead of hair, you have a tangled build-up of thoughts shutting off the creative flow.
Express your ideas:
- Verbalize your thought process (speech-to-text functions can help put your ideas down on a page)
- Bounce ideas off a friend to get a fresh perspective
- For visual learners, organize your thoughts into bullet points or story boards
Think of it as spring-cleaning, but for your brain. In the process, you’ll uncover things you didn’t even realise were there.
Take a proper break
Taking a break may sound like procrastination, especially when it feels like that’s all you’ve been doing. However, not-writing isn’t the same as resting. If your mental process feels stagnant, an intentional change of pace and environment may be just what you need.
Give your brain a little TLC by immersing yourself in activities aside from writing. Go for a walk, listen to some music, or maybe do some actual spring-cleaning.
One simple and time-honored way is to get your blood flowing. Aside from producing endorphins, exercise has been shown to improve divergent and convergent thinking, and so enhance creativity.
So give it a shot—sometimes inspiration is found away from the writing desk.
2. Enlist the help of an AI writer
Writing is no longer the ink-and-parchment-paper affair it was in the past. If those help, by all means, use them. But take it from me, someone who is now writing this article with the help of AI: don’t limit yourself from utilizing all the resources at your fingertips
In this age, technology has introduced us to a variety of novel writing tools to boost both efficiency and creativity.
If you’re stuck in a creative rut, use Hypotenuse AI to expedite the conceptualization and writing process. Our AI writer can generate titles, outlines, and paragraphs for your blog articles in fluent prose. It also takes additional input such as your target audience and brand to craft engaging content tailored to your needs.
AI has evolved to not simply learn language, but also generate ideas. Our AI writer doesn’t just regurgitate cookie-cutter templates—it produces original content from scratch. This can help you find the right words to overcome the block and give your writing that je ne sais quoi.
Simply key in your topic and keywords, and let the AI work its magic.
3. Discipline begets inspiration
As with any habit, consistency is key. With this in mind, you can apply productivity hacks to writing as well. For example:
- Creating personalized rituals that help you get into the zone
- Setting writing goals
- Intentionally scheduling blocks of time to write
- Using the Pomodoro Technique
Creative inspiration can strike anyone at any time, but turning it into tangible results takes discipline. As you hone your writing skills, you also build up the confidence that can buffer against those writer’s block-inducing fears of criticism and inadequacy.
“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club” – Jack London
It’s a common but harmful myth that you cannot start writing until you’re inspired. There is some truth in there, but conversely, it can be said that you cannot feed that spark of inspiration until you start writing. There’s nothing galvanizing about a blank page. Therefore:
4. Cliché as it is, just write
It can be tempting to pounce on any loophole or imperfection we come across in our writing. More often than not, we wind up in an endless loop of constant revisions and formatting, without making any real progress in the narrative.
Freewriting is the process of getting your messy, unfiltered thoughts down on a page. It tackles one of the most common causes of creative blocks—unhealthy perfectionism—and gives you a foundation to build upon. You can’t create momentum without first getting started.
Write first, refine later.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s from a human or AI friend. Hypotenuse AI can be your personal co-writer in the creative process, assisting in both idea generation and content creation.
If you think of an actual physical barrier, it makes more sense to find a way around or over it rather than trying to force your way through. So instead of banging your head against the desk when faced with a mental barrier (as I’m admittedly doing now), take it easy. Find a different angle.
Whether you’re writing an essay or a novel, writer’s block is like our common flu: it befalls even the best of us, but is completely curable. Allowing ourselves a healthy balance of creative freedom and discipline may be just the remedy we need.