January 21, 2011

Getting Physical With Your Writing: Tips and Tricks For Actively Battling Writer's Block

Best Blogger Tips
So there you are, sitting anxiously at your computer, staring into the abyss of its illuminated screen while trying to convince your brain that it's time to write. For whatever reason, your trusty brain is on strike. All fours lobes of its cerebral cortex (frontal, temporal, occipital and parietal), its cerebellum, its stem and yes even its limbic system have unionized and decided that today, at this very moment, you shall not be doing any writing.

Writer's block can affect all kinds of writers, including novelists, screenwriters, playwrights and poets as well as technical writers, copywriters, journalists and bloggers. As a content writer, I've had my battles with writer's block and have occasionally turned to online resources for help. The majority of these resources recommend psychological solutions: brainstorm your ideas, organize your thoughts, swap out your negative thoughts with positive ones. For me, however, writer's block will typically set in after completing these mental remedies. I'll have a fully-researched, organized page; my fingers will be lined up on the keys ready to strike; my mind in a state of complete positivity. And then, nothing. When the only thing left for a writer to do is write, but the writer can't write, what does a writer do?

1. Stretch For Syllables

Your brain is hardwired to your body. In addition to coming in contact with other neurons, the neurons in your brain come in contact with skeletal muscles at a structure known as the neuromuscular junction. As a result, activating your muscles, such as through some simple stretching exercises, will activate brain receptors and help improve the connections between brain synapses.  Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) recommends tensing and releasing different muscle groups in the body for between 5 and 10 seconds at a time, starting with your feet.

2. Walk For Words

While stretching is a physical writer's block remedy that you can complete at your desk, going out for a walk will provide your brain with a bigger boost. Walking increases breathing and heart rate, which forces more energy-enhancing, oxygenated blood up to those thirsty brain cells. In addition, walking can help you pump-up your brain muscles, or more accurately, encourage "cerebral blood vessels to grow," as The Franklin Institute notes. So the next time your brain is idling in front of a blank page, try putting your body into gear and go for a walk around the block.

3. Be A Rover

Our early human ancestors were rovers, who spent their days scouring the Earth for sustenance. They did not sit at that same desk everyday, looking at that same ugly desk lamp and that same pointless container full of ballpoint pens that no longer write. Instead, early homo sapiens were encountering new views and vistas all the time, with their brains constantly reacting to the colors and details of their surroundings. Today, roving for writer's block can be as simple as transporting yourself and your laptop to a park bench or even to a different corner of the office/room. The point is to stimulate your brain with new surroundings when you feel writer's block setting in.

4. Cap The Caffeine 

If you are like me, you can't start your day without a cup of hot, black coffee. And you usually can't continue your day without at least one or two cups more. When writing, I find there is a "caffeine balance" you can achieve, wherein you are alert and attentive, but not jittery or fidgety. Achieving this balance, however, will typically require drinking less coffee as opposed to drinking more (which makes this tip/trick more of an inaction than an action). According to Neel's Corner, too much coffee consumption causes you to feel stressed and can potentially increase your blood pressure, putting you at risk for heart disease.



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