Seven Cures for Writer’s Block

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Writer’s block does not exist.

Writing is work; therefore you sit down and make it happen. Regardless of mood or inspiration or some mythical muse whispering in your ear. That’s one school of thought.

Writer’s block attacks every writer.

The dreaded blank screen, blank page, hand hovering over your keyboard, or fingers tapping the pencil into your desk. Take a break and come back later. The other school of thought.

I’m too new at this writing thing to give you my opinion on the topic.

I’ve given up in frustration when my brain seemed blank. Felt disgusted with my lack of original thought and told my husband, “I quit. I’m no good at this.”

But I’ve also pushed myself to make a self-imposed deadline. Sometimes I’ve hated the results. Other times I’ve realized that hard work and your sixth draft can turn out an unforced sounding, even interesting piece.

Whether writer’s block is a monster looming over the shoulder or a convenient excuse to call in sick, here are seven things you might try next time you are – or are not – experiencing the phenomenon.

1. Check Facebook.

Because no one ever wastes time on social media. You’re just looking for inspiration, waiting for the muse to speak through your friend’s meme or cat video.

2. Stare at your screen.

Are you as convinced as I am that words will magically appear if you wait long enough?

3. Look out the window.

You’re not just wondering why the neighbor chose that hedge or counting how many seconds it takes the mail carrier to go from house A to house B. You’re gathering ideas. Working hard.

4. Tap your keyboard.

Or pencil. Or your feet on the floor. This is not an indicator that your mind is completely blank. You’re moving to create energy and improve blood flow and oxygen levels in the body.

5. Go pee.

Those two extra cups of coffee you downed to get the ideas sparking – they’re now making it impossible to think of anything but your rising level of discomfort.

6. Organize your desk.

Aha! That’s why you can’t focus – too much clutter. That or you’ve decided you might as well do something productive with your time.

7. Sigh.

You’re not admitting defeat. You’re practicing deep breathing relaxation.

“I haven’t had trouble with writer’s block. I think it’s because my process involves writing very badly.”   – Jennifer Egan

 

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