7 Steps for Getting Around Writer’s Block

by Christine Chadwick

Writer's block may seem inevitable, but it isn't permanent. Here are some methods to break the block and get your words flowing onto the page or screen.

1. Free write

Spend 15 minutes or longer a day writing about whatever runs through your head: there is no "wrong" subject or incorrect number of subjects. Your writing may include journaling, fiction, stream-of-consciousness Proustian reminiscences, you name it. The point is to get your brain trained to write regularly. Try it for at least a week.

2. Get rid of your time-wasters

Some writers keep a laptop that has no Internet connection for the sole purpose of writing: they know that the temptation to go online is too great, so they deprive themselves of the opportunity. Turn off your phone. Keep your workspace clutter-free because the clutter is distracting. If you share your home, ask your loved ones to respect your dedicated writing time. Set up a block in your schedule, perhaps on a weekend afternoon, of at least three hours. If you arrange to write when there are a minimum of distractions you will likely have more success at it.

3. Rise with the rooster

Even if you're far from farm foul, waking up early to write is excellent practice. Early morning is a time of day when there are fewer interruptions. Also, your sleep-fogged brain is less prone to inhibition. Dream journaling can segue into a productive clearing of your mind. And most importantly, with enough repetition you will establish a daily habit of writing.

4. Kill the perfectionist

Everyone has an inner editor that can display incredible stamina, critiquing each syllable before the ink is even dry. Forget about it. Forget the editor, your parents, and your incredibly picky eighth grade grammar teacher. Ink is not expensive. Fragments of digitalised computer memory have become an even more common commodity. Your priority is to get a draft onto the page. Worry about rewriting it, and rewriting it again, later.

5. You do you

Comparisons are odious. You are not Ernest Hemingway. You are a writer with a unique mind, interests, and voice. Don't slow yourself down by wishing you could write like your favorite author. You may write a study or parody of an author's work as an exercise to get started, but beyond that, work on cultivating your strengths, not mimicking the methods of another.

6. Draft your subconscious

If you've become stuck due to a matter of plot or structure, write on it before you go to sleep. Do more than jot a few lines; try writing on the issue for a half hour. Then sleep on it. The answer might present itself when you wake up.

7. Learn to love rejection

Do you know who gets rejection letters? Writers! Rejection letters are a sign that you are working and sending your work out into the world. A single rejection letter does not mean that your work is irredeemably execrable - the piece simply hasn't been seen by the right publisher.

Some writers successfully break writer's block by taking regular breaks from their work to exercise or perform some other creative activity - cooking, painting, or playing an instrument. Others join writers' groups or enroll in non-credit classes to create deadlines, community, and an increased sense of accountability. With consistent effort and experimentation you can find the technique that works for you.

Tags: Writing skills
Categories: Writing