Don't you love it when you stare at your computer screen, eyes glazed, transfixed at the little, blinking dash that signifies complete and utter disdain?
Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink.
This can go on for a solid half hour, in a silent staring contest between yourself and that accursed cursor. You recognize this; all the symptoms are there.
You start to make primitive animal noises, tugging at your hair. Slamming random words onto the page. Tuna. Skunk roll. You resort to clenching and unclenching your fists and lying on the floor, praying for a sign, pleading for help and maybe a very large iced coffee. You feel pressured, breaking into a cold sweat. You've dug yourself into a very deep hole and have absolutely no means of climbing out.
This, this is the burning inferno of writer's block, thrust upon you by Satan himself. So, if that's the case, we need some Holy Water, stat.
First and foremost, let's look at where all that good trash for your next novel is coming from. Both your left and right side of the brain are involved in coming up with a good story. Specifically, the Broca's area, which is fundamental in language comprehension and production, and the right prefrontal cortex, which includes areas like the anterior cingulate cortex (in charge of making associations between unrelated things); or, to be more broad, the cerebral cortex.
Lots of scientific-y words; even I'm confused. One more time: left and right brain. Broca's area (speaking and understanding words), right prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex (relates unrelated things). In whole, the cerebral cortex.
Turns out, the cerebral cortex really only works when you're relaxed. So when you're stressed or anxious about writing ("What if I never make it?" "My writing is awful, why do I even try? Nobody's going to want to read it anyway"), it throws its metaphorical hands up in a big, metaphorical 'nope'. Then things happen.
The lymbic system, in charge of your 'fight-or-flight' response, sees the cerebral cortex slamming the front door closed on its way out and decides to call its friend the amygdala. The amygdala, in short, is a total idiot, releasing a flood of stress hormones, drowning the cerebral cortex in waves of "I can't". At this point, the lymbic system has taken over the cerebral cortex, and the cerebral cortex doesn't know it. But the real problem is, the lymbic system doesn't have a speech component, disabling your cerebral cortex.
Now that the cerebral cortex cannot function, it sighs loudly and shouts, "YOU KNOW WHAT? I'm stupid. I'm lazy, I can't even write. Just give up, okay? Do it later. Or maybe never." And you absolutely cannot produce a good story to save your miserable life.
Familiar, or what?
Some writers out there (you lucky little. . . ducklings) don't have very bad writer's block sessions. Some have really bad ones. Either way, it's not cool. It's almost physically painful. Actually, it is. But now that you know what happens when that accursed blinking dash taunts you endlessly, maybe you can learn what helps.
Reading another author's writing is actually proven to help with writer's block. Don't compare yourself to them or anything, but read the pages. Look at how they structure their sentences, and maybe you can even get an idea from them. If not, that's still okay. Maybe you just need a break to clear your head; hang out with friends for a bit, or decorate cupcakes (decorating cupcakes is surprisingly therapeutic, don't deny it. I'm talking to you males out there). I've even heard you should write like you're not stuck; continue with your story, no matter how plot-holed or ridiculous it is.
But remember, anxiety and stress can trigger writer's block. Don't procrastinate by doing these things, because procrastination leads to. . . you guessed it, anxiety and stress. Friday vibes only, as I like to say. You do you. And, hey, you're still going to hit brick walls, but that's all part of the writing process. Screaming like an angry pirate at your keyboard is totally natural. Just be sure you have understanding neighbors.
Hope this helped! Did I miss anything? Do you have something you do to help writer's block? I'd love to hear it: leave a comment!