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How to Turn Writer’s Block into a Thing of the Past

Writer's Block




You’re sitting at your writing desk and staring at your computer screen. It’s blank. You can almost hear the white noise coming from your brain.

You have writer’s block.

Not to worry – Here are some tried and true ideas for getting over it!

Have a Conversation with a Tape Recorder

Over the years, I’ve sat down with a number of writers faced with writer’s block and asked them to just tell me what they want to write. I’ve asked them to just explain it to me, imperfectly.

With much stumbling, many unorganized ideas would pour forth from most of these writers. While these thoughts were definitely unorganized and rough, they were there.

Interestingly enough, talking to me isn’t nearly as helpful as talking to a tape recorder. While I may be very supportive, I don’t have the memory that a tape recorder has.

Nor do I have rewind and fast forward functions.

With a tape recorder, you can get it all out and then reorganize your thoughts on paper. Coming up with something creative is the hardest part; the reorganization is much easier.


Let Your Characters Do It for You

You know your characters, right? You created them and brought them to life through your writing. They all have unique personalities, unique agendas, and unique foibles.

[If your characters aren’t well-defined, forget getting over writer’s block; getting to know them is your next step.]

If you know your characters as if you’ve grown up with them, they’ll be able to pull you out of your writer’s block.

Throw your characters in a room together and have them interact. Or just put one in an peculiar situation, and he or she will react accordingly.


Remember: In your story, you are God.

Pick up a couple people, drop them anywhere you’d like, sit back, and let your sick sense of humor have a ball. (Or, if you don’t have a sick sense of humor, just, you know…enjoy seeing what happens, or whatever.)

Then write down what you see.


Bounce Around in Time

You’re an artist. Chances are, you don’t think linearly.

Luckily, there’s nothing that says you have to start writing at the beginning of your story, and lift your pen only when you reach the end.

If trying to write scenes in their correct order is making everything much more difficult to write, don’t do it.

Write whichever scene you’re inspired to write. The whole piece will come out better that way and might even have an added bonus of further complexity: you could wind up understanding your characters better or, because you’ve already written your story’s future, you may be able to throw in some extra foreshadowing.

Just remember: Nothing’s published yet. You don’t have to write all your scenes in order; your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect; and you can always go back, reorganize, and polish your piece.


Get Re-inspired

Have you ever thought about a word over and over until it sounded funny, and you started to wonder if, maybe, you didn’t just invent that word, and it never actually had a place in the English language to begin with?

Sometimes we do this with our stories, or certain elements of our stories. We obsess over them until they no longer make sense, and we wonder what it was that we were thinking in the first place.

I find that the best way to deal with this phenomenon is to back away from the story and get re-inspired.

Ask yourself what it was that pushed you to start writing in the first place.

Is your piece a work of historical fiction? Check out some books at the library, or watch a movie based in that time period. Were you inspired by a piece of music? Put on your headphones, close the curtains, shut out the world, and get lost in that song. Was it reading “Perhaps not to be is to be without” by Pablo Neruda? I love that poem…let’s read it again!

The point is that you’re writing your piece for a reason, or you wouldn’t be writing it at all. Go back to that reason and you’ll get back to writing in no time.


Act It Out

If you have some good friends who wouldn’t mind helping you overcome your writer’s block, invite them over. If you don’t have any good friends, make sure you don’t tell the friends that you have what you’re doing –  your friendships may not survive the awkward silence that ensues.

Craftsman of Air
So alone or with the best of friends, act out whichever scene or scenes are giving you problems.

And I’m not talking silly-, half-assed, fooling-around-acting; do it like you’ll win an Oscar for it. There’s no point otherwise.

Put yourself into your character’s shoes and let your emotions stir. Conjure up whatever emotions your character would have in his or her situation, and learn from the experience.

I’ve always said to people who’ve given me advice in the form of “if I were in your shoes…” that if they were in my shoes, they’d do the exact same thing that I would do.

Why? Because they would have the same experiences, the same genetic make up, the same hormone fluctuations that I have.

It’s the same thing for your characters. You know your characters; you know what they’ve gone through and how they think about things. It shouldn’t be too hard to put yourself in their shoes.

And, when you do, you’ll do exactly what they would.

Then you can write it.


Alright, so now that you have some devices for overcoming your writer’s block, get moving! There are stories to be written!

Creative Commons License photo credit 1: alexkerhead

Creative Commons License photo credit 2: CarbonNYC

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