Overcoming Writers Block: Five Writing Exercises

Experiencing the frustration of writers block? Follow these five simple exercises to create inspired prose, poetry and news in all situations.

The phenomenon of writer's block has had many a writer burning the midnight oil trying desperately to compose a piece. In a world of fast-paced deadlines and fickle audiences, it is a writer's worst nightmare. While writer's block is often a very complex problem, its solutions are usually simple. The following are five carefully composed exercises that are designed to combat the worst kinds of writer's block.

Step One: Write for Yourself

Many writers sit down to the blank page prepared to write the next Great American Novel. This is neither practical nor healthy. Letting the expectations and standards of the outside world slip into your private sphere is almost certain to leave your mind blank within minutes. To combat this tendency, take a piece of paper and write whatever you want for as long as you like. It doesn't matter if it's a masterpiece or absolute crap, as long as the pressure is off. Then read it. Chances are nine out of ten that it will be some of the most real, relaxed writing you've done in a while. Try this exercise several more times, and pretty soon you'll be approaching every piece as though it were simply a rough draft, with amazing results.

Step Two: Remember Your Motivation

Often the pressure of writing something leads one to forget why they've chosen to write it at all. Take a piece of paper and make a question list. Ask yourself why you started writing in the first place. When you feel yourself answer, ask "Why." (Example: I started writing because I love the freedom. Why? Because being able to do my own thing is important to me. Why? ) After a period of time you might be able to unravel the cause of your writer's block, and discover the motivation to move forward.

Step Three: Make a U-Turn

Many writers often feel that their writing becomes "stale" for reasons that they can't explain. Writing in one genre for a long period of time may actually lead to writer's block. To keep your writing fresh and retain a sense of challenge in every piece, write things that are completely opposite to your normal routine. (Example: If you are a serious writer, try comedy. If you are a woman, write as a man, and vice-versa.) Then bring this freedom back into your daily work. You'll notice a difference almost immediately.

Step Four: Try a Disguise

Writers are well known for their ability to step into the skin of a character and make it come to life. Sometimes, however, a little more than imagination is needed. Try dressing in an article of clothing that your character would wear. (Example: For a detective story, wear a trench coat. For a war tale, wear camouflage.) If you really want to get into things, throw on accents and parade around the house in character. You may scare the neighbors, but your writing will take a turn for the better.

Step Five: Use Outside Influences

More often than not, writers become blocked for lack of a story. There is an easy solution to this problem. Take a radio or TV and place it near your writing space. (If it is a TV, turn it so that it is not facing you.) Then let your stories take their inspiration from the greatest pool of strange stories around: the daily news. Write on the first story you hear, or jump from story to story recording reactions. This exercise is guaranteed to give you a large set of ideas to work from while you write.

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