Writer’s Block

Nothing chills a writer’s soul more than a blank computer screen or an empty sheet of paper. Writer’s block – the bane of every serious writer – rears its ugly head! (Do you get the feeling that I might have had some trouble getting myself started today?)

Fortunately there are lots of ways to get yourself warmed up and on task. I’m going to write about a few of these today, and I’ll offer more next time.

1.  Get into a routine. Choose a time and place to start writing, and follow through every day. It may be tough in the beginning – but soon you’ll have overcome the biggest problem that writers face: Avoidance.

2.  Write something awful. Here’s a story (remember when I said that narratives are great for developing ideas?).

I came home from graduate school with my shoulders drooping and my head hanging because I realized I had enrolled in an impossible course. A research paper was required, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to come up with anything good. It was the last course in my program, and I’d made it with straight A’s so far – but it wasn’t going to happen this time.

My ever-encouraging husband gave me some sensible advice. “Nobody is ever going to know what grade you got,” he said. “Write about something easy. You’re almost done with your program. Why stress about it?”

The clouds lifted, and I indeed picked an easy topic. Except that something funny happened: I started thinking of little things I could do to make it better – a sharper sentence, an extra reference, a better idea. Gradually I built up steam. In the end I earned (tada!) an A.

I thanked my husband for his helpful advice…and he said, “Do you realize you pulled this same thing with every course in your program?”

Well, no, I didn’t.

Moral of the story: It’s ok to be imperfect. You can always fix it later. Forget what your mother said about “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” (Yeah, my mother said that too.)

3.  Get a writing buddy. This is the gold standard of writing advice. Commit to meet at a regular time and place (coffee shops are wonderful). Go ahead and spend a few minutes connecting and chatting – and then get to work.

Click here to read a follow-up post about writer’s block.

writer's block

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