How to Overcome Writer’s Block

Some Helpful Tips

by Deborah Owen

More often than not, writer’s block is caused by not writing regularly.

Most people are overcome and overwhelmed when writer’s block strikes, and rightly so. A writer who can’t write is much like a pianist who can’t play. Worse yet, writer’s block will carry over into other areas of your life. Don’t let depression and discouragement get you down. It’s vital to stay positive in order to get back in control.

Organization is the key to breaking writer’s block. Start by organizing your life in little ways, by setting short-term goals. Reasonable goals. For example, brush your teeth at the same time every day, or sweep one room at the same time every day. Try to eat at the same time. Get up the first time the alarm clock goes off, and go to bed at the same time every night. The idea is to gain control and meet your goals. When you can live a somewhat regulated life for a week or two, it’s time to work on your writer’s block in a more direct way.

Sit down to write for at least 15 minutes a day, every day. Inasmuch as possible, do it at the same time. What you write isn’t important. Write what you’re thinking about, or write a biography. Write about your parents or a childhood sweetheart that jilted you. Write about something that makes you mad or your problems in life. Anything emotional. If you can’t even write about that, write about the inability to write. Just write! Before two weeks are out, you will rediscover the muse (inward creative stirring) and you’ll be on your way again.

To prevent losing the muse, continue writing at the same time every day, and when you’re ready to take a writing course, remember Creative Writing Institute, where every student receives a personal tutor.

Don’t be satisfied with less than the best. Check it out today.

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5 Power Tools for Smashing Mini-Blocks

Frozen Words
by
Noelle Sterne

You’re barreling along in the middle of a piece, congratulating yourself on great progress when suddenly, for no apparent reason, you freeze. Paralyzed, you stare at the clock and watch your life, fame, and creativity drain away like sangria from a cracked pitcher. Don’t despair or bury your head in the refrigerator. Just keep going.

This admittedly obvious remedy also frees you from an insidious writer’s malady – the one called the “I-must-produce-only-gold” syndrome. Part of the cure is to accept the inevitable byproduct of writing . . . the “garbage” that every writer creates on his/her way to anything worthwhile.

As a mentor once told me, “Write out the junk.” Doing so is essential to reach your goal. The process is often a means of discovering where you want to go. To keep going, try these five methods.

Freeing Tools

1. Combat the “only-gold” syndrome by repeating like a mantra, “It’s only my second draft” (even if it’s your thirty-fifth). Writing takes time, persistence, and relentless effort. Another worthy mantra is Justice Louis Brandeis’ pronouncement: “There is no good writing. There is only good rewriting.”

2. Talk to yourself in the middle of the draft. I use italics: What do I really want to say? What got me fired up in the first place? What feelings do I want to express? How do I want the reader to feel? Should I use metaphors or straight talk?

You can delete your questions later – but I’ll bet from your asking, the answers will pop up like toast from a hot-wired toaster.

3. Have faith in the self-talking method. The answers will surface. American poet Richard Wilbur knew this: “Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind. Something will come to you.”

The secret, and scary part is to “step off,” even if you feel like your brain is as vacant as a twenty-something comedy. Muster your writerly courage and swallow, in a literary free-fall.

4. If you still run into a blank wall, talk to yourself again. One of my first draft paragraphs looked like this: “Or, as Richard Wilbur says, ”Just jump off into the blank of your mind. Something should come to you.” Check quote and correct.

Your mind is a fantastic, retentive, associative computer. You can prompt it to produce whatever you need.

5. Keep writing alternatives. Repeat your last good phrase and begin pumping out whatever comes to mind. However forced, lame, ridiculous, or off-the-mark, write the junk out. It’s only your fiftieth draft.

For these drafts, I’ve also developed a system of slashes and codes. To separate the alternatives, I use slashes: “stupid/stupider/go sell shoes.” Mark your best variations with a special symbol, such as * or +.

I also use several codes:
W = WORD, VERY BAD.
FIX = FIX THIS!
REP = REPetition of words, ideas, sounds.

Create any system that makes sense to you.

These five ideas may sound elementary, but they work. They’re effective, powerful tools that help you smash your writing mini-blocks. How do you deal with mini-blocks?

Author, editor, ghostwriter, writing coach, and spiritual counselor, Noelle publishes nonfiction and fiction in print and online venues. In Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books), she helps writers and others apply practical spirituality to release regrets, relabel the past, and reach lifelong yearnings. See www.trustyourlifenow.com.

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