Overcoming Writer's Block

Innovative and creative ideas and advice on overcoming writer's block.

One of the most frustrating things about being a writer is smacking headfirst into a writer's block. We all get them and we all struggle to overcome them. They can last a couple of hours, if we're lucky. Or, they can last months. The longer a block last, the scarier it gets. We find ourselves wondering if our well of ideas has actually run dry.

There are many ways to combat writer's block. Each of us has to find our own techniques to beat this monster that terrorizes each writer. There are some basic steps that can help no matter what technique you like to use when you are blocked. Keeping these in mind will help any writer's block activity produce more success.

Find a Way to Relax

This is the most important weapon in fighting writer's block wars. If a writer is tense the block will just get thicker and stronger. The stronger the block becomes the tenser the writer becomes. A vicious cycle ensues in which the writer starts to feel helpless. There are many ways to achieve relaxation. Here are just some of the ways that writers can find some peace and get their minds and bodies soothed.

*Take a hot bath with low lighting and soft music. Fill the tub with fragrant bubbles and allow your eyes to close while listening to the music and taking in the smell of the bubbles.

*Go for a long walk somewhere that helps you clear your head. Make it a place that you feel comfortable in or that holds special meaning for you.

*Watch a funny movie. Make sure it is one you can get lost in and forget about everything else around you. Nothing eases tension better than laughter.

*Meditate in a quiet spot. Sometimes we just need to have some quiet and time to think in order to let our brain start producing ideas again. This is best done in a time and place you won't be disturbed by others.

*Find someone you like to gossip with and let it all out. Talk about meaningless things like the weather or the prices of bricks. Give your intellectual side a break. The main idea is to not talk about writing or anything to do with writing, so it's best to pick someone who doesn't write for this kind of chat.

*Color. That's right, get a coloring book and a brand new box of crayons. The ones that remind you of when you were a kid and got to buy new school supplies. Don't share your book or your crayons, allow yourself to be selfish and self-indulgent on this one. Color until you can't stand the sight of the crayons anymore, then give them to your kids. The next time you need this you get to buy brand new ones again.

Find New Ways to Get Ideas

Once you're relaxed and your brain has a clean pathway to it, it is time to allow those new ideas to flow. Here are some of the ways you can bring in those new ideas.

*Go out to eat by yourself and eavesdrop. Listen to the conversations around you. There are all kinds of ideas just floating off the people in restaurants and their daily lives.

*Visit chat rooms and message boards. See what topics have people in heated discussions. These are the topics readers will be most interested in. Watch the comments of others and start forming your responses to them. There are endless writing ideas within your own responses as well as the comments of others.

*Answer surveys. Take a survey every now and then and really think about your answers and why you answer the way you do. Just could be that you have a character for a new story jumping up and down on your psyche during this time.

*People watch. This can be done anywhere, but one of the best places is the airport. Pay close attention to the clothes people wear, the luggage they carry, the looks on their faces. These are all indications of their personalities and problems. It is good to take notes; this will help you in your character development. You may even bump into a whole new plot.

*Participate in writing exercises. Anywhere you find suggestions for writing exercises do them, even if you do not belong to the group suggesting the exercise. The more you write the more the ideas flow. Keep all of these exercises in a file labeled "IDEAS."

*Consult your "IDEAS" file. All those little snippets and snatches of writing you have tucked away may be nothing when you first put it in the file, but a few months down the line one of them could inspire greatness. You never know where the next literary masterpiece may come from.

*Read. Read other people's work. Critique it and analyze it. Think about what you would do differently or how you feel it could be improved. Critiquing and analyzing are great ways to generate your own ideas.

*Finish someone else's story. Read short stories and ask yourself what happens next. Someone else's ending could be your beginning.

*Write. Even if it is a letter to your mother, write it. A grocery list could inspire a story or article on meat cutter's unions. Your own journal entry could be the beginning of a confederate soldier's journal.

Make Your Writer's Block Tangible

Create a Writer's Block that you can touch. Use a piece of wood or plastic in the shape of a block. Write your name on it and label it "WRITER'S BLOCK." When you get blocked, talk to it. Tell it how annoying it is and write on it. Write about the annoyance and fear that this block creates in you. Then put it away and tell it you don't want to play with it anymore. This may sound silly, but allowing yourself this outlet will help release the hold writer's block may have on you.

No matter how you chose to combat writer's block, the important thing is to remember it is only temporary. If it were possible for all ideas to be used up there would no longer be writers in the world. Everyone goes through these periods of time where they can't seem to get a word down on paper. And, everyone gets through those times, too.

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