What should I do if I suffer from writer’s block?

We read dozens of texts and articles every day and write a lot ourselves – whether short WhatsApp messages or longer emails. But sometimes, when you have to write a longer text, your brain sometimes says goodbye to all its resources. Here you can read why leaving a text for a while can help, and why Shakespeare could become your best friend when trying to solve writer’s block.

That's how you break through writer's block.

Slipping into a different role

I was not familiar with this method myself, but now I think it is simply ingenious. The Raikov method, invented by Russian psychotherapist Vladimir Raikov, is about imagining you’re a famous genius. 

When writing, for example, you might imagine you are Shakespeare. I immediately think of perhaps writing outdoors, going for a walk or simply philosophising about the subject. In general, the idea is to see your text from a new perspective. 

If you’re not sure Raikov is your man, perhaps Robin Williams can persuade you as the young English teacher John Keating in the Oscar-winning film “Dead Poets Society”: “Just when you think you know something, you have to look at in another way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try.” This not only helps with writer’s block, but also generally with mental blocks, for example when you simply can’t come up with the appropriate equivalent for a particular word when translating.

Simply leave it for a while

Actually you could lie down yourself and take a power nap of no more than 20 minutes to refresh your brain. But I think it is far more effective to take a break from the text. Do something else, look out of the window, cook something delicious. When you come back to the text, you have new ideas or you suddenly move in a completely new direction. 

This also works wonderfully if you have to proofread a long document and simply cannot see the errors any more. You can’t take a break from the text because the deadline is tight? Then maybe the next tip is more to your liking.

Just get writing

As funny as it may sound, just try to write something about the topic. Even if it’s just a mind map or a word. An experienced copywriter once told me that many people want to capture the perfect sentence straight away and therefore never even get started. In practice, however, you rarely have an error-free and ingenious sentence to hand. 

Don’t be afraid to cross something out and even rewrite an entire paragraph the next day. Also try not to be too critical of yourself. Writing and translating are cognitively demanding tasks and are not as easy as people often think.

Change the medium

I’ve often found a given layout has limited me and I couldn’t even get a word written. Try opening a completely different file format or a notes app that lets your inspiration flow more freely. 

Or try dictating. This isn’t just something for lawyers or busy CEOs. Some of our freelance linguists at Apostroph have already told us how well speech recognition software (e.g. Dragon) works for them. In fact, some only work according to this principle. Dictation also has the advantage that you go easy on your fingers and wrists and do not have to work sitting down all the time.

You can apply these tips to all linguistic situations, whether copywriting or translating – if you can’t think of the right word or are generally overwhelmed by a particular text. 

We hope that this post has helped you and that your creative juices are now flowing again. Let us know what you think about the post. We look forward to receiving your feedback by e-mail at freelance@apostrophgroup.ch.

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