Writer’s Block: Take a Walk When the Words Don’t Flow

I’ve heard of people who go through days and months where they cannot write.  They are utterly and completely blocked.  For the most part, I don’t have complete blocks although I do have slow downs.  When it happens, I do these three things to get the word flowing again.

I get up and burn some calories.  I’m not one of those people who believes that no matter what you should stay at your desk.  Sometimes you need a break.  I used to walk the neighborhood.  I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing that but think I should start again.  More often than not I walk on my treadmill or row.

Experiments show that after taking a walk, people test better both in terms of memory and attention, and that seems reasonable.  When you walk, your heart pumps more blood and oxygen not only to your muscles but also to your brain.  Feed your brain and it’s likely to work better.

Other studies show that we can change the pace of our thoughts by walking faster or slowing down.  Just can’t get a flow going?  A brisk walk will jar those notions loose!

Most of us are fairly good at walking, so our minds wonder.  Yeah, imagine that.  A writer’s mind wandering.  Still other studies connect just this type of mental state with making mental breakthroughs.  One minute, I’m noodling over the grocery list.  The next, I know exactly what scene should come first.

The next time that you’re stuck, maybe forcing yourself to stay at your desk isn’t the best answer.  It might be better to take a walk and get both your blood and your ideas flowing.  You don’t have to go walk for an hour.  Try five minutes out and five minutes back.  That’s a ten minute break that didn’t lead you right to the refrigerator.  Like I said, I’m stuck on the treadmill for now – something about a heat advisory.  But I’m looking forward to getting back out in my neighborhood.  I have a few plot issues to work through.


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