Breaking the Block

One thing that really caught me by surprise when I entered the “paid writer” world is often I’ve come face-to-face with a bullying case of writer’s block. I always thought writer’s block was a bit of a cliché, really. Then I learned, quickly I might add, that in college you aren’t producing something every single day. You have weeks before an article is due. You can chew, mull, prob and pull until the putty of your words takes the shape you want.

Even Kurt Vonnegut dealt with writer's block.

Life at a desk job is a bit different. So far, I’ve learned that:

  • Computers aren’t inspiring.
  • The closer your deadline the more your head hurts.
  • Reading your own writing makes you sick.
  • The neurons that travel from your brain to your fingers have died horrible, ghastly deaths.

Face it: writer’s block is a leg cramp for Lance Armstrong or a sore throat for Lady Gaga. It gnaws you up, sucking the marrow and leaving you all meek and doubtful. You need to shake up your routine; find another reason for writing. Creativity doesn’t come from stagnation. Derived from illumination, the only way to break through writer’s block is inspire yourself.

  • Read something you enjoy!
  • Take a pen and a notebook and go for a walk. You’ll be surprised how blinding a computer really is.
  • Have a conversation. Tell someone (or yourself) about the story, in detail. Jot down a few of the things you say and you’ll find that the phrases you create during a conversation are way more engaging.
  • Work on something else. If, like me, you have a plethora of writing, designing and web assignments, just switch over to something different. Give your mind a break.
  • Stream it out. Forget the grammar, punctuation, AP Style… just go for straight to paper. Put your thoughts down, in their chaotic beauty. Let the rambling lead to coherence.
  • Change the scenery. Work in a different part of the office or plug-in some headphones. Do something to alter the environment and refresh your mind.

Nothing, to me, is as frustrating as writer’s block. I can see it wreaking havoc in a well-intentioned story. I gave it the good ol’ college try, but my best just isn’t in it. You can’t, however, hold on to that. You have to accept that you will write a paltry story every once in a while and that’s okay. The world didn’t end. Remember, all pages start out blank.

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2 thoughts on “Breaking the Block

  1. I’ve two ways of dealing with writer’s block.

    1. Just start writing like you’re knocking out a quick newspaper report. Start with the headline facts, the who, what. when, where and why.

    2. Sometimes a good approach is to write something negating the point you want to make. This helps you look at the job from a different angle.

    1. I’ve never even thought of trying a devil’s advocate approach, Bill. That’s is an outstanding tip!

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