Writing 411: That pesky little problem that plagues even the best of writers … - Archived


Writer’s block.

Yep. It happens. To all writers. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been writing since you could pick up a pencil, writer’s block has struck the best of us.

Writer’s block is defined by wikipedia ( 😉 ) as a condition in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. I think we can venture beyond authors and just apply it to any writer in general. We don’t know what to write. No matter how long we sit in front of our computer screen or how many times you sharpen your pencil, your brain stays blank.

I’ve had that happen to me more times than I can count. I’m not an author or a professional writer, but I’ve had that happen when I just want to write a blog post and especially when I have a academic research paper staring me in the face. I can draw out mind maps, make a list of topics to write about, and still … nothing.

So how do you get over it?

I don’t think there is a be all cure to writer’s block and I think it’s because we, as writers, draw inspiration from a variety of things. Here are some of the things I do to help me get past writers block.

1) Free write
A very popular writing exercise amongst writers is the free writing one. It’s where you write, non-stop, for a set amount of time. I’ve participated in these exercises from three minutes up to five. The trick is to not stop your pencil, even if you’re writing one word over and over and over again for the last 4 minutes of the exercise. You don’t worry about grammar or spelling or sentence structure. You just write.

I like this exercise because you literally write anything and everything that pops into your brain for that three to five minutes. I’ve had some pretty interesting things come forth in this writing exercise.

2) Writing prompts
I google writing prompts or go to a website like Writer’s Digest to find their daily writing prompts and then write a paragraph or two. For instance, this post is based on a writing prompt (thank you, BlogHer > NaBloPoMo > writing prompts 😉 ). Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone think for you so you can get the ball rolling.

3) Journal
I keep a journal. Sometimes I write in it, sometimes I don’t. I try to write daily, but we all know how that goes. I find, though, when I journal I have a lot of things I can expand into a blog post. My Other Worlds post is a good example of this. I journaled about my day and the conversations I had with my brothers and decided to do a post on it. I’m not brave enough to write a book, just yet, but when I comb through my journal and read some of my thoughts on certain current events I feel like I have enough material to use if I ever want to write one.

4) Live
As mentioned, we draw inspiration for our writing in a variety of things. Living is the best way to get over writers block. Go see that movie you didn’t want to see. Learn something new. Try out that new restaurant. Read a different author. Just be in the moment and then go journal about it. Was it fun? Did I hate it? Why? Would I do it again? What would I do to make it better? All these questions about that particular experience are inspirations. There’s no need to worry about rights or wrongs. You just … be. You just … live.

I read in a book that mentioned something about writers reacting to life. We observe life and we react to it which is why we write. I want to say I read this is in Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook, but I’m not 100% sure (I thought it was a good book, by the way. It’s written for children, but he mentions a lot of good tips). Anyway, writers have this desire to talk about things so I thinking living life is the best way to have things to talk about.

How do you handle writer’s block?

What are some of the things you do to get past it?

(NaBloPoMo 2014, Day 12)

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