for Overcoming Writer's Block
by RJ Lee
What happens when you’re completely “blocked” and can’t write anymore? Should you pour yourself a drink or two, take a nap, and hope you’ll wake up in a more inspired state? Should you find some ancient Chinese secret at one of those New Age stores downtown? The answer: a resounding “None of the above.” The key to unlocking your trapped creativity is… Creativity!
Here are a few really good exercises you can try:
1. Go to the grocery store or your local coffee shop and eavesdrop on a conversation. Then, go home and write your imaginary ending to that conversation. It can be serious, it can be silly. (Overheard: “That teenage daughter of mine simply won’t clean her room…” Your ending “So I told her she can’t go to the dance with her boyfriend until she does it” or, “So I deep-fried her cell phone.”)
2. Grab the newspaper (or bring it up online) and pick out a story. When you get halfway through, stop and write the rest of it yourself, adding bits and pieces that you think make it better.
3. Get started on your autobiography. Include your favorite childhood memories, and things that made you sad. The goal here is to provoke feelings and passion.
4. Write a paragraph or two on your favorite celebrity, athlete or politician.
5. Recap the day at work, your most recent shopping trip, the last family gathering you attended – anything. Just sit down and put it on paper.
These are simply exercises. There’s no agenda, no goals, no metrics. They’re just meant to get you writing, get you thinking, get that right side of your brain activated again. Sooner or later, the connection to your work at hand will be restored. Writer’s block is an obstacle to be hurdled, not a permanent state.
Some writers make it a point to sit down at a specified time of day and write for a specified period of time. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you may end up like the writer who deleted 290 pages of text because he felt what he wrote was garbage. Had he been wasting his time? Doubtful, because what he re-wrote became a bestseller.
Start with the notion that writer’s block is a myth. Conquer it through creativity, and then visualize your Pulitzer acceptance speech.