This guest post is by Brandon Yawa of BrandonYawa.com.
If you are a writer, I don’t have to tell you how a dark shadow dubbed “writer’s block” hoovers over all your projects like Casper, but in the form of a not-so-friendly ghost. However, I assure you, this phenomenon known as writer’s block is not an apparition that needs a force like Ghostbusters to be removed. In fact, this phenomenon is not a phenomenon at all.
If you were a pro athlete in any sport…
You would know that you could only push the limits of your body so far before your body would give out. In a pro athlete’s world, people call this “overtraining.”
As writers, however, the heaviest weight we lift is our laptop, and our physique is never tested beyond hauling it from café to café. For that reason, we easily forget how overworked our mental faculties can be.
Writing is a mental treadmill that never stops.
The day you set foot on the path of being a writer, you have inadvertently placed yourself on a mental treadmill that has no end. Everything that happens to you, whether it is conscious or subconscious, speeds up or slows down this neverending treadmill.
If you have been writing for ten years, you have been mentally running, jogging and walking on your mental treadmill for 3,650 days straight. That’s enough mileage to make you the new spokesperson for Nike, and definitely enough mental mileage to warrant fatigue.
You are not blocked.
You are mentally fatigued, whether it be from worrying about living up to your last creation, living up to your own expectations, or just living a writer’s life in general.
I will repeat, you are not blocked, you are tired, and rightfully so I might add.
Humans need rest.
It sounds so clichéd to say you need rest, but you do. In order to rest, you have to figure out how to take yourself off that mental treadmill. You have to learn to separate the material you need for writing from the material you need to be human.
5 steps to get off the mental treadmill
1. You have to show yourself compassion
You have to accept that you are mentally tired of the process of writing. Just like you allow yourself to go to sleep, you have to allow yourself time away from writing.
2. Forgive yourself for being unable to write
You have not done anything wrong, and you don’t suffer from a life-threatening disease.
Instead, congratulate yourself on what you have accomplished thus far. Even if it’s only that you got out of bed, opened your laptop and pressed your fingers on the keyboard. Congratulate yourself for trying, and then congratulate yourself for having the compassion to know when you are passed your limits.
3. Don’t allow the outside world to affect how you feel about yourself
You are not a machine whose sole purpose is to produce. Instead, as a human being, you decide what your purpose is. If you choose writing, remember it’s what you chose on your own terms, and that’s how it should remain.
4. Find hobbies that take you away from the writing world
Sometimes just shutting our mind off isn’t enough. We need an object or objects to assist us in shutting off that mental treadmill. See the world, travel your city, play video games, or read books that relax you (not ones that inspire you to write).
5. Learn to love yourself whether you are writing or not writing
Whether you are producing Shakespearean material, or creating child’s play, learning to love yourself totally (the good and the bad) not only gives you an immediate place of refuge, it arms you with a sensitivity that knows when too much is too much.
True compassion starts with the individual before it is shared with the world.
Brandon Yawa is the author of BrandonYawa.com. A blog built to show you new ways to tackle the same old human dilemmas.