Writers' block

Masterpiece under development

It's a mental phenomenon and an occupational hazard here at Bespoke, but most people have experienced writers' block at some time or other. Whether in the creation of an artistic masterpiece or an official report, when the words fail to come it can lead to deep despair. A recent such attack in Banstead inspired some frenzied research...

Like everything else these days, it seems that stress is the phantom menace. According to Wikipedia, stress causes the human brain to "shift control from the cerebral cortex to the limbic system", which controls behaviour that is based on "deeply engrained training", hindering a person's creative processes.

So, while avoiding undue stress is an obvious strategy, what else can you do when an attack comes out of the blue? Among the popular tactics of those who should know are: engaging in a quick burst of physical exercise; baking a cake; pretending you're writing to a friend or family, and even imagining you are a plumber!

One thing generally agreed upon is that for most of us the biggest obstacle is perfectionism or the "inner critic", so it's better to get anything down on paper - even if it's nonsense - and revise it later* once you're really motoring. As American poet William Stafford said: "There is no such thing as writer's block for writers whose standards are low enough."

*NB - don't forget to revise later!

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