Let me preface this by saying, I don’t believe in writer’s block. That’s why I never have it. I just don’t believe it’s possible to have. If someone is stuck, it usually means one of two things…
1. They are distracted by a major emotional issue in their life,
which probably actually needs attention.
2. They are focusing too hard on the wrong thing.
So, assuming you are struggling with #2 (if it’s #1, by all means, don’t force yourself to write! take care of yourself first!), I wanted to offer some simple advice for getting unstuck.
One caveat — this advice is for people who write fairly regularly, and have a fair understanding of writing as a practice and/or profession. In other words, people who have already identified the goals for the writing. Assuming you are a blogger, this means, you know your audience, and you have some sense of the value of what you want to share. With these key components working under the surface, some creative stretches will help you get going and moving towards your goals. If you don’t already have clearly defined writing goals, these exercises will still be fun, but may not give your piece much shape — you may want to reframe it later, after establishing some goals.
Okay, onto the activities!
First, identify the “block.” What thought are you pushing against? Is it that you think you should be writing something, but have no idea what? Or, do you need to write something specific, but are blocked in terms of how to say it?
These two types of problems have the same cause. When you want to write, but don’t know what to write about, you are probably over-thinking it. When you know the subject, but not how to dig into the writing process, you are probably over-thinking it.
In the case of not knowing what to write about, consider this: you do not have to reinvent the wheel. Writing things down has been going for a long time. Nearly every topic that could be written about has probably been written about in some language, at some time. But not by YOU. Trust yourself. You write for a reason — somewhere inside you know that you have thoughts that are unique, and that no one would put anything into words in the exact, same way that you would.
Take out an old-fashioned notebook, place a pen to the page, and start writing — anything. If you worry that a topic is mundane, challenge yourself. See how interesting a story you can concoct about the knot in the wood-grain of your dining room table. See if you can find an unusual way to describe a mundane task, like clipping one’s toenails. Then, make a cup of tea, and re-read what you wrote down. Look for the juicy bits. Look for the clever turns of phrase and the brilliant ideas. Any meat starting to show up? Random ideas starting to pop into your head? That means you’re off and running, get blogging!
For a time when you know you need to write on something specific, but are feeling blocked, remember my mantra:
“There is no such thing as writer’s block.
I just haven’t started writing yet.”
Take out a piece of paper and write the topic in the middle. Start writing other words that represent the essence of the topic all over the page. Then, go back to each of those words, and find words to represent their essences, too. Continue with this as long as you’re having fun with it. Finally, at the outer-most set of words, try linking each one back to your topic, and seeing what they have in common.
This is sure to spark a fresh way of thinking about your topic. You can also do a similar thing by following strands through the Thesaurus. When you force yourself to look at your topic’s similarities to random and perhaps unrelated concepts, you won’t be able to keep thinking about it in the same, old way. Your brain will be firing off new ideas, and you’ll want to be writing them down.
The main thing about not believing in writer’s block boils down to remembering one thing — change of perspective is key. If you can get yourself thinking in fresh ways, and creating unusual combinations of ideas, you are already there. Just write it down! As all writers know, your subconscious quickly leaps in and gets you in the flow. And, if the flow gets interrupted, just refresh your perspective again, and jump back in.
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