You have probably experienced this at some point – writer’s block. It comes with the territory of writing. You are paralyzed and not one worthwhile word comes to your mind. Wouldn’t it be nice to prevent this? Well, there is not a prevention solution, but there is a remedy.
There are actually several remedies. You need to pick the one that is best for you.
If your chosen method does not seem to be working, try one that you think would not work. Surprisingly, you may need to trick your brain back to the right path.
It is on the path that it thinks is right, but needs to be led a different way, strengthened in a different way. This is mind confusion or mind redirection to build the mind. This is similar to the muscle confusion discussed in the P90X infomercials and videos. There is something to be said for leading yourself down a new path – it works.
There are five different methods that will be discussed over a series. We will cover the first three today. Which one will successfully redirect your brain?
Method 1: Stop being your own worst critic
You know that you are your own worst critic. Sometimes it is good to be reminded of this. The last time you wrote a blog post or similar piece you probably had harsh thoughts of a sentence or paragraph only to find that it was the reader’s favorite point.
This also happens with headlines and it creates an immediate stop sign for your brain. Putting a criticism in place freezes your brain in a sense.
In fact, self-criticism creates behavior inhibition in the brain. This impacts working towards a goal. It also impacts the language processors. In other words, self-criticism impairs the writing of a headline. [i],[ii],[iii]
Simply think of the writing process as a brainstorming session where every idea has equal merit - where every idea is written down.
Does this sound too hard? If so, do you think you can turn off your critic component for just a little while? Start with writing the first five sentences that come to your mind. Just write them.
Now your mind should have worked itself out of its jam.
Method 2: What is the worst you can do?
You probably put a lot of pressure on yourself to do your best. You want to be at you peak performance. It’s not often that you try to do your worst. Doing your worst is what this method is all about.
Thinking of the worst will release your brain.
Start with the five worst sentences that you can think of. If while working on these five, your brain switches tracks and starts thinking of good ones write those down too. If so inclined, you can completely switch back to the good path. Go ahead and write good ones when you are ready.
You have permission to write bad sentences when needed. Do it now.
Method 3: Sleep on it
Sometimes it just feels like nothing is in synch. Your mind might be so focused on one type of headline that another just won’t come to mind. It cannot seem to find another creative path to travel. This could be the situation where you need to step away from the project for a day and come back to it after a good night’s sleep.
Why does this work? Research shows that while you are sleeping your brain is still actively thinking.[iv] This study suggests that while the brain is not focused on the specific task at hand and is in the sleep state, it connects distant ideas resulting in a creative surge.
If all else fails, or if this is your preferred method, sleep on it.
Which one are you going to try the next time you have writer's block? KW
[i] "Self-criticism." Wikipedia. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-criticism>.
[ii] Tanji, Jun, and Eiji Hoshi. "Physiological Reviews."Physiological Reviews. 88.1 (2008): 37-57. Web. 5 Nov. 2012. <http://physrev.physiology.org/content/88/1/37.full>.
[iii]Longe, O, FA Maratos , P Gilbert, G Evans, F Volker, H Rockliff, and G Rippon. "Neuroimage."Neuroimage. 48.2 (2010): n. page. Web. 5 Nov. 2012. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19770047>.
[iv] Cantor , Joanne pH. D. "Sleep for Success: Creativity and the Neuroscience of Slumber." Psychology Today: Conquering Cyber Overload. Psychology Today, 15 2010. Web. 5 Nov 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/conquering-cyber-overload/201005/sleep-success-creativity-and-the-neuroscience-slumber>.
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