Every writer suffers from blocks now and then. When no matter how hard you try to get your brain to function, come up with a creative idea, or solve a problem, nothing seems to work. In fact it seems that the harder you try the tougher the resistance.

Here are a few reasons that our brains may go into this catatonic state:

The inner critic has moved into the driver’s seat. This happens when we start thinking negatively about our writing. Remembering old criticisms from parents, teachers, or colleagues seem to take on a power greater than we can overcome.

Having too high an expectation can be just as deadly. In this case, we become our worst enemy by setting up goals that are impossible to reach. I found this quote recently by the American poet William Stafford who stated “There is no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” Lower your expectation a notch or two and start writing!

Not allowing enough time. The pressure of a deadline can help if it has been reasonably set. However, deadlines that are too tight or left to the last minute can build up pressure to an unreasonable state. Sort of the difference between shoveling your driveway after a regular snowfall and trying to dig out from an avalanche. My favorite quote for this situation is “Most people overestimate how much can be done in a little amount of time and underestimate how much can be done over a long period of time.”

Not enough sleep. Now we start moving into the physical but very real causes of writer’s block. If you are tired, you cannot think. In 2007 a study done at the Harvard Medical School and the University of California at Berkeley revealed that “sleep deprivation causes the brain to become incapable of putting an emotional event into the proper perspective and incapable of making a controlled, suitable response to the event.” Wikipedia shares the above fact and many other interesting details about sleep deprivation. One that I found especially gripping was a possible correlation between celebrity overdoses triggered by lack of sleep.

Too much sugar. Forbes magazine has a great article with an even greater title: “Sugar Makes You Stupid, But Omega-3s Will Smarten You Back Up.” The author, Alice G. Walton, goes on to share the findings of a new study by UCLA researchers that showed the difference on rats navigating through a maze based on dietary intake. “Those who drank the fructose solution (common to what is found in many prepared foods) instead of water were the worst-off of all when it came to their cognitive capabilities.”

Not enough exercise. A New York Times article on “How exercise could lead to a better brain” shares how “scientists in just the past few months have discovered that exercise appears to build a brain that resists physical shrinkage and enhance cognitive flexibility. Exercise, the latest neuroscience suggests, does more to bolster thinking than thinking does.”

Not enough water. Dehydration, especially in women, plays not only a role in cognitive thinking but also affects our emotional state of mind. While drinking any water is good new findings show that drinking a cup of plain, hot water before breakfast is more effective for digestion and removing toxic deposits from our nervous system. A build up of toxin in our body can have a negative effect on emotions and thoughts all of which play a role in not writing at our best.

The next time you feel that you’re suffering from writer’s block, check out possible physical and mental causes before it gets too big to handle. Once you have your writing flowing at its optimum best and are ready to make progress in publishing a book, download our free report, The Author’s Guide to Choosing a Publishing Service.