Whether you’re a professional writer, a student writing a paper, or an executive writing a business proposal, everyone at some point experiences writer’s block. Writer’s block is a condition in which a person is unable to create new work. It varies in severity from mildly annoying causing one to miss a deadline to disastrous causing one to completely abandon his or her work.
Although most everyone is familiar with writer’s block, no one feels it as often or keenly as an author who is under pressure to continually create new and high-quality work. But if as a writer you have been blocked or are currently blocked, take heart, you’re in good company. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charles Schulz are included among those who have experienced an obstruction in creative flow.
So what do you do when this problem strikes? The solution is different for everyone but I have discovered a few techniques that help.
Read, read, and then when you’re done, read some more. Don’t discriminate in your material because ideas can come from the most unlikely source.
Talk to People
Start conversations with friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Remember, everyone has a story just not everyone can tell it but as a writer, you can.
Use your Senses
Listen, watch, smell, taste and feel. The way the light casts across the sky at sunset or the way chocolate chip cookies release a warm smell mixed with memories can open your senses and your mind.
Use Art to Beget Art
Look at paintings, listen to music, eat delicious foods. Sometimes enjoying and appreciating the art from another field can inspire ideas in your own field. Find inspiration in other artists’ creativity.
Change It Up
When working on a particular piece of work, take it in a different direction. Go against your first idea and instinct. Work against the current and see what it yields.
Stream your Consciousness
Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and just write—anything. Allow all your thoughts to flow onto the page. It’s like cleaning out a closet. You will discover what should be pitched and what is worth keeping.
Sometimes you just need to step away. Allow your mind to relax. Exercise, walk the dog, go to the movies. Allow your mind to concentrate on another task; it is when ideas aren’t forced that they can flow.
Set a Deadline
Whether professionally or self-imposed, deadlines can sometimes force you to work past the block. If self-imposed reward the met deadline to encourage keeping it.
Start with One Word
Choose a word for it’s meaning or it’s sound and begin. The first sentence of my book came from a friend who upon seeing a vibrant red in a picture said that the color was so beautiful, she could swallow it. Remember every book, regardless of length, starts with one word.
As I wrote about in my last two blogs, sometimes you just have to try less. Relax, let go, and allow the words to come. Don’t force it; don’t push it; just flow with it.
As a writer, I understand that writing can be both a passion and a frustration. So give these methods a try and good luck in breaking the block.
Causes Sherry Parnell Supports
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International