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A best-selling author reveals his 3 techniques to overcome writer’s block


Experiencing writer's block can be both frightening and frustrating for anybody working on a project with a deadline fast approaching.

Unfortunately, this inability to produce content within a specified period of time can strike at any moment.

And best-selling Hay House author Charlie Morley is no stranger to this common setback.

"All three of the books (I've wrote), I've had a point, usually halfway through, when I realize the scale of what I'm trying to do, and I just go 'F---!'" Morley, also a teacher of lucid dreaming and shadow integration, told CNBC Make It.

"My writer's block came from my inner critic. It was the inner critic saying that I didn't have enough experience to write this book, that I had imposter syndrome, that I didn't know what I was talking about, (and) that I shouldn't be writing. So, all of those inner critics were coming up and it manifested out writer's block, and it (tried to convince me) not to keep writing."

Writer's block is likely to have affected artists for centuries, but the term was first coined by psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler in the early-to-mid 20th century, following studies he conducted into writers and their productivity levels. What causes writer's block, however, can differ from person to person, yet it is often linked to concepts of not being 'good enough' or lack of motivation.

So, when a literary roadblock crops up, what's the best way to tackle it? Morley breaks down different techniques that could prove useful in confronting writer's block.

Help is on hand

Anyone dealing with their first bout of writer's block may think it is an experience that no-one can assist in or understand. However, this often is rarely the case.

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"People don't think about this, but (when they get) writer's block or any sort of crazy block they just go: 'Oh, I've got it' and they think that they are stuck with it," Morley said. "Whereas what I would do, is turn to other people in the field — other writers, other artists, other creatives, whatever the medium is — and just ask them for help."

"So many people in the art world want to help," he said, adding how he turned eventually to other writers for advice. Not only can people offer guidance, but also reassurance that dealing with writer's block is natural, Morley said.

Confront blank page syndrome

If you're hoping to get something written down on paper — just do it. One approach Morley suggests to fight what he sees as "blank page syndrome" is to just start jotting down information and see where it leads.

"Just to get the (Microsoft) Word file open and put a title and underline the title. Then, I know I haven't got a blank page, at least I've got something," he said.

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"From that, I might have an introductory paragraph, and then start ripping quotes — so finding the quotes from other people that you want to include and start bringing the quotes into the page," he added. "And suddenly you've got a full page. It may not be anything you've written. It might just be inspirational quotes to guide you.

"Anything you can do to get over 'blank page syndrome,' do it. So, draw a picture on the page, put some quotes on the page. At least put a title and a date on the page."

There's a huge difference from seeing "just a wall of white and seeing something with text on it," Morley said.

Don't get too comfortable

If you're trying to execute your next big project somewhere familiar — maybe it's time for a change of scenery.

Morley views his apartment as "a safe place" — a location where he knows where everything is and all feels secure. But the parts of Morley's brain that are usually in survival mode are switched off when he is at home as he doesn't need them. In a park or café, however, and Morley said his brain is "working more effectively" as his survival networks are switched on in a less familiar location.

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"So, people often think that the best place to work is somewhere quiet, very secluded and by yourself. I would say the opposite. I would say that is too much of a safe place to work," he said, adding that this is why people can feel so inspired when on vacation, as their brains operate differently in new locations.

In fact, Morley has found that just the process of booking a writing retreat, or going away to another place, can help inspire and unlock his block. Even the knowledge that he is traveling to another country can help alleviate his writer's block.

"So I'd say go work in a park, go work in a cafe, in a place you've never been before and you'll feel that your brain — literally your brain will be switched on in a way that it is not switched on (as much) when you work from home or the office," he said.

Ultimately, writer's block isn't a block on writing, Morley added, but is instead a localized block on inspiration and creativity.

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