How to Get Around Writer’s Block

If you’ve never had a problem putting pent to paper/hands to keyboard, you are extremely lucky. It happens to the best of us, typically it’s temporary, and completely normal. There are ways around this– other than waiting hours/days needlessly on the hope that something “will just come to us” as we sit with pen/keyboard in hand wondering where the aspirin is. In general, each tactic should be attempted for only five or ten minutes at most. Anything longer is probably a waste of time. In a rough order of preference:

  • Go for a walk or engage in some other activity
    • Clean your office/desk or play with the dog or cat
    • If you haven’t already, eat something or take a shower
  • Think/meditate on the goal, not the work
    • Going on vacation? Retiring after your 3rd (or 33rd) book?
  • If practical, write some other plot/story/device that is still productive (or not)
  • Make phone calls or pay bills
    • Other minor things on your “to do” list
  • Perform religions duties/practices (if any)
  • Read material in your chosen genre to “see the other side”
  • Marketing/promoting your script as an example, use social media. Set an egg timer….AND stop when it goes off.
  • Take a nap (again, set an egg timer/alarm for a reasonable amount of time)

Failing that list, one must ask oneself if the problem is not so much in the mind (take an aspirin), or in the willingness to write? Samuel Clemens once observed that “work” is something that one is obligated to do. “Play” is something that one is obliged to do. More to the point, in his story Tom Sawyer (the hero) hated whitewashing his grandmother’s fence. All the boys in town hated the chore equally, and before the end of the chapter, he had them all whitewashing the fence for him after he convinced them that they couldn’t whitewash his grandmother’s fence better than he could.

The trick is to make the writing more about play (obliged) and less about work (obligated). To do this, set small goals (500 or 1,000 words) then a small (reasonable) reward. Another trick is to focus on the goal, not the work as stated before. Another trick is to start another page/document and “flip it over an play with it”. For example, re-write a particular scene where all the character are evil (as opposed to good, and visa-versa). Go whacko if you want– no one ever needs to read it except you. Still another trick is to get a blank page/screen, shut your brain off, and *just* *write*. Let it flow….what comes out doesn’t matter. The fact that it does come out, that’s what matters. Yet another trick is to write something a little more pleasurable (for several minutes only) and then come back to the needed script. Lastly, you might try a somewhat larger reward– for continued composition. When completed, give yourself that reward and relish it. This will make for better progress the next time this tactic becomes necessary.

Given patience and effort, success in getting over writers block will be yours!

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