Writer’s block kills. It’s an idea-killer.
Your most inspirational idea can be so clear that it seems not only real but completely attainable. But the moment you sit in front of your keyboard or pick up your journal, poof!
The idea and all the words you had to describe it are gone.
Your mind is just as empty at the page in front of you. You’re facing writer’s block, the fear of losing all your words.
Why it’s so hard to write
Short of duct-taping yourself in your writer’s chair, it can be hard to sit in front of the computer and put your ideas into language.
You can find plenty of reasonable explanations for that difficulty. Good writing requires both technical know-how and the ability to create nuances using words in infinite combinations. It’s like trying to pick the perfect color; before you know it, you’re knee-deep in analysis paralysis, but you still haven’t committed to anything.
First, writing can be personal. As soon as we drudge up deeply personal matters, the subconscious voice yells, “You can’t say that!” All writers can say it, and great writers will write what they’re thinking. They ignore the voice and continue.
Writing is an uncertain act. Most writers have a general direction in mind when they set off on a page, but they’re also willing to see where their writing takes them. More than one writer has experienced a character that comes alive on the page or an idea that builds its own wings and takes off.
Finally, perfection and writer’s block make for great friends. Most writers who edit and re-edit while writing a first draft become bogged down. These highly analytical writers check their spelling and grammar as they go. Perseverating on the details too early can prevent writers from capturing their thoughts fluently.
So what’s a would-be writer to do?
7 Strategies that work
Writer’s who want to beat writer’s block develop techniques that immerse them into writing without overanalyzing what they’re doing. The way to overcome writer’s block is to write, so you must engage yourself in the act of writing itself.
Try these strategies to get the ink flowing and the keyboard keys clicking
1. Make a list.
Identify what you’re working on, the things you need from the grocery, the statements you overheard at the mall, the places you’d like to live. Anything, will do, really. Writing groups of words will spark an idea. When that happens, you’ll already be warmed up and ready to go.
2. Encourage your stream of consciousness.
Write down everything that comes to your mind. Yes, everything. Tell your inner voice it’s okay; no one but the two of you will see it. Let the words flow like a stream. Don’t worry about spelling or even punctuation. Try writing this way for more extended periods each day. You’ll be surprised at some of the gems you capture.
3. Begin in the middle.
The Greeks called it in media res. They recommended skipping all the boring front matter and explanation in writing. Jump into the action right away, they said. Your reader will figure it out, and your writing will be richer for it.
4. Use the alphabet to your favor.
If you’re still stuck, try the alphabet writing game. It’s like the improv game you’ve seen on old TV shows, but with written sentences. Your first sentence must begin with the letter A, your second sentence with B, and so on. You can flip the order and work backward from Z, too.
5. Write the conclusion first.
Your English teacher was wrong. You don’t have to start at the beginning. If you know what you want to say at the end, write that first. Your conclusion will serve as the beacon for the rest of your writing.
6. Redact (blackout) unnecessary words on a page.
Make a photocopy of one of your pieces of writing, take a black marker, and scratch out the words you don’t need. Use what’s left to write a stellar first sentence or opening line. The process is known as blackout poetry, and it’s an art form.
7. Write a quotation you find meaningful.
Then rewrite it as many times as necessary. Avoid writing about the quotation itself. Write the words from the excerpt over and over until your mind is ready to string together its own words. As soon as your writing machine is primed, leave the quote behind and let your original words flow.
Beat writer’s block for good
To squash writer’s block once and for all, face your fears head-on. Time management experts advise people to do the hardest tasks first. Everything else comes easy.
That advice isn’t too different from eating a raw egg (or kissing a frog) first thing in the morning. After that, what’s the worst that can happen to you the rest of the day? Pretty much nothing.
Tackling your writing works the same way. do the heavy lifting first, and everything else comes easy.
Some would-be writers would rather drink the raw eggs or kiss the frog than write. They hire a writer when they want their ideas captured in writing.