Have you ever written like you were on fire, only to fizzle out moments later by slamming into the dreaded wall of writer’s block? Instead of trying to power your way through it, did you know there are other ways of getting around this impasse? Join Wordsmith to find out more!
Slacking to success
Whenever the writing juices cease to flow, you might feel like you’re fighting a war of attrition. Stopping now would be a waste of the time and effort you’ve put into it already. This line of thinking is called a sunk cost fallacy, and is an irrational thought process that can guilt you into persevering when it might be better to walk away for a bit.
Provided that you aren’t dealing with a deadline that’s minutes away, sometimes stopping and taking a break is the best course of action. Have you ever wondered why some of your most creative ideas come to you in the bathroom? According to a study by productivity expert Scott Barry Kaufman, 72% of participants come up with their best ideas in the shower – supporting the argument that relaxation and creative thinking are closely related!
“The relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely, and causing people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams,” says Kaufman. Dubbed strategic slacking, purposely putting your work aside is a legitimate strategy to foster creativity.
“You need to create that [slacking] space in your life, and that’s often what happens when we go into the shower,” explains psychologist Ron Friedman. So, the next time you’re feeling stuck while writing, a quick visit to the bathroom for some insulated thinking time might be just what you need – but try not to bring your phone, as the additional sensory stimulation could prevent this process. “If we’re squeezing all of the white space out of our lives by filling it with activity, then we’re not going to have the space that we need to innovate or think,” says Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative, to Friedman. “This allows us to bring the best of who we are to what we do.”
Don’t forget to set limits on how much time you delegate to slacking, otherwise your supervisor may have a few words of encouragement coming your way. The Pomodoro Technique provides a good guideline to the work-break ratio.
Refuel and refresh
As essential as coffee and chips are for keeping us awake, we can’t survive on a diet of caffeine and pantry snacks. Granted, they are convenient fillers while we are cracking away at a deadline, but their negative nutritional value can affect our ability to think when consumed exclusively over long periods.
Wolfing down your lunches lets you get back to work as soon as possible, but did you know that taking a full lunch break can have great health benefits? Forbes reports that employees who take longer lunches experience increased productivity, improved mental well-being, boosted creativity and overall increase to healthy habits!
Fish, like sardines, tuna or salmon, make great lunch options and contain omega-3 fatty acids – an essential compound that is prevalent in our brain cells for facilitating inter-brain cell communication.
Although fresh fish contains higher concentrations of such oils, certain varieties of canned fish are a fine alternative – especially canned salmon. However, fish oil does not improve healthy brain function, it merely maintains it – so don’t expect to boost your IQ by chugging fish oil supplements.
If seafood isn’t your thing, then perhaps something hot and spicy? Capsaicin, a chemical compound found in chilli, is responsible for the fiery burns that we love to hate. Capsaicin activates our body’s pain receptors, triggering our brains to release hormones like dopamine and serotonin – chemicals that help us feel good and regulate our mood. Even if your heat tolerance is low, a small pinch of chilli can give you a “runner’s high” that might help you blast through writer’s block. Alternatively, a banana provides a quick serotonin boost too.
According to advertising copywriter and cartoonist Hugh MacLeod, gathering more information on various subjects lets you have more to work with. Then, based on the project’s requirements and your work experience, you can sift away unnecessary data to form connections that best addresses the project.
Doing research and trying to come up with ideas can be a stressful, but it’s an integral part of the process of copywriting. Although we do so diligently (or try to anyway), how many of us actively read and learn outside of work? If the answer is not much, then you’re going to be at a noticeable disadvantage when pitted against someone who is more well-informed. Some people argue that work should stay at the workplace and that your leisure hours are for recreational use, but acclaimed Irish playwright Oscar Wilde challenges this notion:
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will have when you can’t help it.”
Even if it doesn’t seem relevant to your work – be it fiction novels, news stories, Elon Musk’s future space plans or how mozzarella cheese is made – simply being more informed about any subject gives you a deeper repertoire of knowledge. The information may not be immediately useful, but it might prove handy later. Aggregator websites like reddit are great for catching up on the latest bits of news about everything, provided you can stay away from cat memes.
Writer’s block is a pain to deal with, but you don’t have to let it dictate how the rest of your day plays out. Put it on the backburner and do something else while you wait for inspiration to arrive… Or better yet, hire a professional copywriter to write it for you!