When you can’t write, read.

Sometimes filling the blank page with words can feel like a mammoth task, a complete impossibility. At times like these we must head elsewhere for inspiration.

They usually call it writer’s block. The inability to produce any kind of coherent sentence when faced with a blank page, or any page. Words won’t come, no matter how hard you try.

My brain hasn’t been in a writing mood lately. I haven’t had the mental space to be able to produce the words I so desperately want to write. There are things I want to say and I can’t seem to say them. Where there should be words, there is nothing.

Writer’s block can be frustrating. Nevertheless, I’ve also found these times needn’t be idle. For the past few weeks I’ve been turning to other writers, poets and authors to fill this void with words that aren’t my own.

When you can’t write, read.

There are different ways to approach a book. One can be as a reader, for the pure pleasure of the account you hold between your hands. The other is more analytical, when you approach the text from a writer’s perspective.

During this less productive spell I’ve noticed a change in my reading habits. While reading I’ve been drawn to sutil elements I’m not always aware of, observing styles and tools each writer uses to express their meaning.

So rather than skimming through a passage taking in only the elements of the story, this approach has allowed me to appreciate the material at a deeper level. When lacking inspiration of my own it has been a great help to observe, learn and perhaps incorporate some of those techniques into my own writing.

When you can’t write, read.

Reading opens your mind up to new perspectives. You can explore topics, genres and styles other than your own. It is my belief that you can learn something from everything you read, even if it means discovering what you do not like, something you do not agree with or how not to write.

I mentioned before not having the mental space to write. This can sometimes also mean we do not have the mental energy to read either.

What can we do when we feel we can’t read?

Audiobooks or spoken word are the perfect solution for these times. Listening to others’ words can help as much as seeing them on the page. I find they also get my mind thinking and imagining, finding words to break the blockage, they can kickstart an idea or inspire my next piece of writing.

Eventually you will have to return to the blank page and face it. Start writing gibberish, push through the blockage, put out words even if they are senseless.

Hopefully all the other words you have surrounded yourself with while reading will bring back some inspiration as you begin to write again.

How about you? In what ways do you overcome writer’s block? Do you find reading inspires you? What have you read lately that has encouraged or informed your writing?

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