Overcoming Writer’s Block –

1 Mar

First off (and please forgive me for being personal here) are you sure you really WANT to write? Do you know what you want to write? Have you written anything previously? If the answers to all three of these questions are YES!!! then please read on. If you’re not sure, go ahead and read, but then give a lot of thought to these three questions during that process. They’re really key. Okay?  Then, press on, regardless! 

So, after all that, do you really, really think you have writer’s block? Or is it that you just don’t really want to write? There IS a difference.

The best cure for writer’s block is to write something. ‘Oh, yeah?’  I hear you say. As simplistic as it sounds, the answer is YES. First thing – put your mind into writer’s gear. (Your car won’t go forward if it’s in reverse gear!) Become convinced that you can do this and that what you produce will be at least readable, if not downright wonderful!

Write something. Anything. Soon, you’ll discover that what you’re writing actually makes sense! And there you are. No more block. It is sometimes hard to write on command, I’ll grant you that. But if you really want to call yourself a writer, then you have to write. Otherwise, you’re a dreamer. Or worse. (We won’t go there just now.)

Or maybe you really do have writer’s block, but it’s because of what you’re trying to write. Maybe you’ve not done all the research you need to have done. Or you have an assignment that just really doesn’t ring your bell. The mark of a professional is to do the job at hand – regardless. If you’re aiming to become a professional writer, then you simply have to ignore all these side paths, and stick to the main road. And that road is named ‘Write’.

If you have an assignment from school or work that requires you to produce a paper and you just simply can’t get into it, then write a letter to a parent or a friend—or even yourself!—and tell them all about your intended project. Why you can’t get into it; the topic is stupid; it’s not your thing . . . whatever. But write. Write for fifteen minutes, then stop, and get up and walk around. After five minutes for a glass of water, a pit-stop, or to change the CD or radio station, sit down and start again. I find it best to listen to my favorite music (happens to be classical) rather than something to make you want to get up an dance around the room, or as the old song says ‘I can’t sit still!’ Not helpful in this instance. Don’t give yourself any opportunity to get more than a very few steps away from the computer.

Repeat this routine as many times as necessary to finish that particular project – the letter. Once you’ve read through what you’ve written, try to enlarge on those parts that pertain to your assignment. See how far you can get before having to stop to gather more information, do more research, go to sleep for the night. Whatever.

You don’t have to start at the beginning. Some writers start with the last chapter, and then go back to the beginning. Others start in the middle and work their way back to the beginning, then go back and continue on to the end.

What you’ve written here doesn’t have to be perfect, you know. A first draft is most often a rough draft, and nothing to worry about. If the spelling, grammar, punctuation and what-not need a bit of help – so what? You can do all that later. But in the meantime, you’ll have started your project! Chances are, the next time you sit down at the computer to start up again, it’ll all be much easier for you. Don’t be afraid to discard something that doesn’t agree with what you want it to be. BUT!!! I never, ever delete anything. Intentionally, that is. I save it to another file named ‘outs’.  Sometimes this file gives me something very usable, and I’m delighted to discover this buried treasure.

Do you have a small recorder? Maybe you can record yourself as you think it through – listening to the play-back could be very helpful.  Or possibly you can talk it through with a good friend, who might bounce ideas back at you. If your piece is to defend a certain position, try writing from the opposite viewpoint. Just please do try not to get into an argument with yourself!

Whatever – the great Ohio-born (and visually-impaired) humorist, cartoonist, essayist and playwright James Thurber said it perfectly!  “Don’t get it right, just get it written.”

 Good luck! If you have questions about any of this or any other topic pertaining to writing, please ask! 


My apologies for being late with this. I went away for the weekend, and brought company back with me. We then had an electrical malfunction with which to contend, and I worked today, too. So, even though it was done before I left home last week, I just could not get it posted yesterday. So sorry! 


One Response to “Overcoming Writer’s Block –”

  1. Cathy Jo March 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Thank you for this very timely article, Kelly. As usual, it’s just what I needed to hear! I’ve been ‘stuck’ for quite some time now and just recently was able to put a few meaningful words on paper. Thank goodness, when I asked myself the three questions, the answers came back a resounding YES! Now that I’ve just about gotten my taxes together, I can finally entertain the idea of carving out some time to devote to writing more.

    Thanks again!

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