Let’s talk about writer’s block

Writer’s block bites the big one. It doesn’t matter that everyone faces it at one time or another, when it happens to you it makes you feel stupid, helpless and completely unskilled.

I’m learning that I’m the type of writer that needs to let the words simmer for a while before committing them to paper. This explains why I’m such a slow writer, and not just with my book. I’m slow when I write for work, too. There’s a flow I have to find before I feel good about sending a story to my editor. It happens naturally and easily with some stories; it’s a quest with others.

Here are a few things that help me when I’m feeling absolutely stuck:

  1. Take a walk. Let your mind wander. It will usually land on a good idea, just don’t forget it before you get back to your writing. (It’s smart to carry a notebook with you at all times, just in case.)
  2. Take a shower. For whatever reason, I have flashes of brilliance in the shower. Too bad I can’t take a notebook in there.
  3. Play music. I can’t do this while I’m working on the book because it distracts me. But, if I’m stuck, I’ll step away from the computer and play some tunes. It can’t be anything too upbeat or else I just start dancing. Something moody, soulful or with lots of instrumentation usually works.
  4. Read. This can go one of two ways — either I read something and it sparks an idea for my own work, or I read something and feel like I’m no good in comparison. Thankfully I’ve gotten better about not making comparisons. A tried and true book to read to fight writer’s block? The thesaurus.
  5. Write. I know what you’re thinking. “Um, hello, if I could write something I wouldn’t be having this problem.” Here’s the thing, I think writer’s block is the effect of having too many ideas rather than none at all. Get rid of some of them so the quality stuff has space to percolate.

Example: I was going through a blocked phase and wrote this in an attempt to write anything. It’s from March 3, 2003.

I’ve got something to offer, something to give
Something beyond the life that I live
Something to startle, shock, and impress
Something to put me over the rest
Something that no one has seen, felt, or known
Something that’s mine and only my own
Something to change the course of my path
Something I’ll follow without looking back
Something to get me out of this rut
Something amazing… I just don’t know what.

I felt a billion times better after I wrote that, even though it’s depressing and inconclusive. But I knew if I could knock that out while I was blocked, I had even better things in my head that were just waiting for the green light.

Do you have any tips on how to get over writer’s block or just feeling uncreative in general? Share them. You might help the rest of us out of a jam one day. πŸ™‚


7 thoughts on “Let’s talk about writer’s block

  1. Relax, how ever someone finds easiest. Sometimes just relaxing the muscles in your head can open channels, even if it requires a little cat nap.

  2. I eat Oreos. Which is really enjoyable. And let’s pretend that the serotonins that get released spur on my creativity. Right? Right? πŸ™‚

  3. Awesome post. Whenever I’m blocked, which is a horrible phrase, I just get away from the computer or look at things I like looking at. I tend to psyche myself out while writing ledes. I takes a few tries sometimes.

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