Get Out Of Your Own Way

How about that Writers’ Block? A damnable plague of the page, am I right? Nothing to be ashamed of, it happens to all of us. Sometimes it’s a full on ‘what the hell do I do now?’ or the occasional ‘sticky wicket,’however it hits it’s no good at all.

Now I’m not saying I have the cure. There’s no magical blue pill to let you write when your fingers have gone soft on you. Lots of coffee, chocolate, and nicotine helps me, not to break the block, but it helps. I may have a tip or two to help squeeze out of the rut though.

One of the ways that sometimes helps me is to simply walk away and read something. Whatever book I happen to be in the middle of. It helps to get your mind off of what you’re doing. Or rather, what you’re not doing but would like to be doing. When in doubt: read, read, read! It may even give you an idea to start another project.

I’ve also found that going back over what you’ve written so far can be a huge help to break the wordless doldrum. Take the last page or two of what you’ve been working on. Print it out. Give yourself something tangible to look at- trust me. Open a new document. Retype your last page or so, word for word. Each time I’ve done this one of two things happens (sometimes both). You’ll either start changing a few things around, adding a new sentence or two, or the big one. You fly beyond the pages you started with and the block is gone! Hurray!

Okay, now for what personally is the biggest problem I have. Maybe you do to. Getting hit with writers’ block that you yourself cause. I find that sometimes I try too hard to put words on the page. Usually resulting in nothing or in something that sounds forced and just plain terrible. Again I have to say just get up and walk away for a minute. Get out of your own way! If you try to force your writing all you get is forced writing – it’s like literary hemorrhoids. And there’s no cream for that! I’ve found that when you look back over what you’ve got, you’ll be able to tell that your writer’s voice is lost.

Take a deep breath, find something distracting that won’t eat up your whole day. Don’t think so hard about it. And for the love of Pete, get out of your way. Things seem to go much more smoothly when you stop thinking so hard about it and just let the thoughts flow. I’m not saying go totally free-form, unless that’s your style, but let the work you’re doing flow freely. To be honest I don’t care how hokey it sounds, it works for me.

I’d like to hear your thoughts about overcoming Writers’ Block. Any tips, any suggestions, even personal experiences you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you.

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2 thoughts on “Get Out Of Your Own Way

  1. I often find Writers Block to be something I hide behind – just an excuse for being lazy. There are a gazillion things to be done, all of them easier than writing. The only thing that breaks it for me is actually writing – no matter how crappy it is.

  2. I think you’ve given some good ideas, Joe. I tend to prepare a loose outline with a couple sentences describing what I think needs to happen in each chapter to move the story to the ending. My outline is open to changes as the story moves along. However, by having a kind of map laid out for me, it helps me keep the flow going because I know where I need to head towards next. When I do find myself staring blankly at a white screen, I allow myself to jump to some other part of the book where I know what I want to write. This can reinvigorate me and help me see what I need to go back and fill in with. I also have used your technique of taking a break and walking away from the writing for awhile. Sometimes focusing on something else lets my subconscious work out the problem and gives me an “Aha!” moment.

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