5 ways to overcome a writers’ block

A writers’ block is when you are a writer and cannot write. Yes it is as terrible as it sounds, but fortunately there are ways to overcome this crisis.

What works for me are these things:

1. Motivated or not, sit down at your desk every day, on a schedule, if you can. It will happen that you just sit there, but that’s ok. Just do it and if no ideas are coming, do not worry and don’t start to do anything else, just sit there. Overtime it will help your brain to understand that you want it to focus on writing once you have sat down at the desk. (Related to this: possibly use a certain workplace for writing and another place, if you can, for reading or for doing routine things like checking emails etc. It’s a way to teach the brain to activate certain resources once you sit in the “writing spot.”)

2. Use the pomodoro method. It’s really, really simple: work for 25 min uninterrupted then take a break of 5 min. After the break, do another 25 min. After a number of 25 min sessions do a longer break. During the breaks do something very different from writing, stand up, walk around, doodle, play with your pet. Do not sit at your table, do not check emails or surf the internet.

3. Have multiple projects open. If you don’t have any idea what to write for one, just leave it alone and do one or two 25 min sessions on another one. After you have reached a result on the second project, return to the other one and see if now you have an idea of how to tackle it.

4. Take a problem home with you, so to say. End each day with formulating a problem you have encountered and not solved. For me that would be something like “ what is the worst thing that I could make happen to this character?” Or: “what must happen to this character in order to become a good person?” Don’t mull about it, just make yourself aware of it and then start the next day with asking yourself if you have an idea how to solve it. Often the subconscious processes things overnight and you’ll be surprised what it comes up with.

5. Become aware of the “critical voice” that we all have. It’s this part of you that says things like, “is this really worth the effort?” “ will anyone be interested in this?” “Other people have written about this, why would anyone want to know my take on it?” Once you are aware of it, switch it off for the twenty five minutes of focusing, or, at least, don’t give it any attention. Longer term, your can try and replace the voice with a gentler one. Try and imagine someone you care about replacing that voice. It’s a method used in NLP (neuro linguistic programming) to help people overcome negative beliefs that impact their lives.

Published by Michael Esser

Michael lives and works as scriptwriter and producer in Los Angeles. He won numerous US scriptwriting contests and develops TV series and feature films with renowned German and US talent and production companies. In Germany, Michael created and wrote drama series, over sixty TV movies and feature films. As a producer he initiated and overlooked national and international productions Michael won the GERMAN TELEVISION AWARD (“German Emmy”) and the Rose d’Or de Montreux as head writer of VERLIEBT IN BERLIN. He is currently completing his first novel. Michael studied editing at the National Italian Filmschool and holds a PhD from TU Berlin; he researched teaching methodology at UCLA’s School for Film and Televison (TFT), and works on an entertainment business related start-up in Natural Language processing (NLP). He also is an evaluator for the Directorate Research and Development of the European Union and a jury member for the German Television Academy. Michael dedicates his free time to marathon running and his role as a facilitator and panelist for the Neighborhood Justice Program (NJP) of Los Angeles’ City attorney Mike Feuer.

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