psychology

The Psychology of Writers Block

I have writers block. I have writers block writing that I have writers block.

How’s your month been?

For any mythical people out there who have never experienced writers block, writers block is when you simply cannot write. The very sight of a blank page makes you want to watch Supernatural re-runs all day.

When you do write, nothing you write sound good to your ears and you certainly don’t want to publish it.

It can effect your blog, work, study or anything else that involves words in print.

Its crappy. Nobody has time for it.

My Post
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Usually when I cant write, say an essay I have to do, I take out my diary, write nonsense for ten minutes and get on with it, but I am not even keeping up with my diary lately.

In the 21st century when we experience something unwanted, we google it. That’s what I’ve done. I miss writing to all of you. I miss the comments and the conversations on social media and I miss writing.

Today I came across a New Yorker article about creative block and psychology, called How to Beat Writer’s Block.

The article describes research carried out on writers block in the 20th century. The theory goes that writer block is down to unhappiness. That unhappiness impairs, temporarily the imagination and if you can get that going again, you can write again.

Like jump starting your brain, maybe?

If you are new to Girl Down a Rabbit Hole you should note that while I am a psychology student, I don’t tend to reference research directly. This is because most research is published through journals the majority of people don’t have access to. I encourage everyone to check the references of the writers they read and so I use sources that you can check.

The whole article is always more informative than the snapshot I will give so go check ’em out.

The question is am I unhappy? Are you unhappy?

I’m certainly frustrated. I find academic work frustrating and my final year at college needs to be split between doing assignments, my final year project and trying to decide what I want and can do after college.

It’s not really surprising that I can’t get anything done, I feel like my head is only just above the water.

The better question is though, what can I do about it?

The research described in the New Yorker article used exercises designed to stimulate imagination. The author talks about the novelist Graham Greene’s dream journals which he wrote to combat his own writes block.

It actually makes a lot of sense. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, the truth is nobody knows for sure why we dream.

What nobody can deny is that our imaginations do tend to run wild when we sleep. Maybe we are only blocked when we are awake.

In an article by Psychology Today called Writer’s Block: It May Not Be All in Your Head Jennifer Haupt, discusses research into the time of day optimal to creative pursuits, a “creative clock.”

The research looked at what parts of the day are better for problem-solving tasks like maths and what times are better for creative tasks like writing according to the kind of person doing the task. They found that “morning people” were more creative in the evening and evening people more so in the day.

I’m a morning person, not by choice, most of my classes in a week are in the morning so my preference really doesn’t come into it,but I am sort of trained to be productive in the daytime.

When I started this blog again last spring, I used to write at night. I have insomnia and it gave me something to do when I couldn’t sleep.

When I started reading about blogging, you know the “should” and “shouldn’ts,” I learned that I should release blog posts at the same time every week, that consistency was important. I learned that I should release posts at my blogs busiest times of the week, which at the time was Wednesdays. I started planning writing around release dates.

Maybe I need to read my Instagram bio again, “Student by day, blogger by night” At night seems to be when I am freely creative.

In another article by Psychology Today called Writer’s Block, getting into the chair and staying there, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels talk about writers and flow states.

Flow states are that state of mind where you are so engrossed in what you are going that you don’t even notice the time go by. Your brain kind works in automatic. You are “freely creative.”

Worrying about what you are writing, the quality, the consequences, whether it will put food on the table or whether you will fail your class, impairs your ability to flow.

Stutz and Michels recommend to their clients that they write badly first because when they enter that flow state, the writing will get better.

One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever got was write your first 100 words. The worst thing is the blank page looking up at you accusingly. Usually if you get through the first 100 words you continue to write.

That’s a lot of information I know. So what tips and tricks can we take from this information.

  • Keep a diary, write down your nonsense for ten minutes and get on with it.
  • Keep a dream diary, whatever their purpose, your brain tells its own stories when you sleep.
  • Figure out what time of day you are most creative and write then, follow your own “creative clock.”
  • Write badly, write something, write anything. You will get there.
  • Write you first 100 words, don’t cry over blank pages.

There you have it. I have writers block and I’ve written a whole blog post.

I hope you got something from it. If you have any of your own tips and tricks, leave them in the comments.

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