Tag Archives: writer’s block

What Writer’s Block Can Teach You About Writing

Given this lovely graphic, I think it is not hyperbolic to say there are almost nine million resources for anyone stricken with writer’s block.
Let me share the top five takeaways that I gleaned from the first 5 returned articles. It is cliché-city…you are forewarned.

Use It or Lost It

If you are like me and have taken time off from personal writing because you write all the time at work, you may have hit this hurdle on only your personal endeavors. This seems to be my ailment.

For work, I can draft any procedure and create any training documentation that is required without too much trauma. That’s because I am basically writing what I am doing. It’s more reporting than writing. When I want to write for “fun,” the story changes, and I can’t even figure out where to begin.

“All of the prolific writers I know scoff at the idea of writer’s block. They don’t have time for it, they say. They’re too busy writing and keeping the flow happening,” writes Kevin Kaiser in his 2016 article “4 Lessons Running Can Teach You About Writing.”

Just like at the gym, if all you do is yoga, then when you want to run, you won’t have the stamina. If all I write is technical in nature, then my creative muscle withers away. Kaiser’s article is worth a look because he takes a topic done millions of times and compares it beautifully to running, which is quite entertaining.

Just Do It

You cannot call yourself a writer if you aren’t writing. Thank you, Captain Obvious. No, really…that’s the step that everyone of those articles shares. You will only beat the monster hold up if you sit down and write.

Richard Kadrey provides the next wisdom in his June 2017 Fast Company article, “By writing at every opportunity that presents itself, even the lousiest authors can sharpen their skill until their prose becomes serviceable, or if they’re lucky, a pleasurable read.”

Writing at every opportunity seems like a lofty goal, but it is doable. Just think about that smart phone where you tick out 140-character missives multiple times a day. That’s writing too!

I used to teach my students to play the “Why Game.” You write your first sentence, “I do not know what to write about.” Yes, it should be “I do not know about what to write.” They were middle school kiddos who took great pleasure in saying my sentence looked “funny” and sounded “funnier” {more funny] when read out loud. Since this was my number one suggestion for them, listen to your own ear (voice), I had to adhere to their suggestions. The writing went as such:

I do not know what to write about a time when I had to work for something I really wanted. Why? I am too tired to think. Why? I stayed up playing my new video game last night? Why? I wanted to master the game? Why? It would make me feel like I had worked really hard and been successful.

DING! DING! DING! We have a winner. Is it a pulitzer winner? No, she was in 7th grade. However, it did make her feel like a successful writer that day, AND she was writing, which was the assignment. Who knows where she will be in the future. She didn’t hate writing that day. Maybe that made me the winner too.

Know When To Walk Away, Know When to Hold’em

You may need a vacation from your passion project. You may need that absence to make the heart grow fonder. Or you may need to sit down and stop finding a million other distractions. Whichever way you are going, do the opposite. If all you do is get sidetracked, then make yourself sit and write. If all you do is write, but it’s not good, walk away (but come back later…don’t quit…don’t ever quit).

I like all of the ideas Laura Giovanelli provides in her Washington Post article “On Being a Writing Teacher Struggling with Writer’s Block.”

  • Writing with the monitor off/writing with a white font (laptop)
  • Writing with [gasp] paper and pen
  • Go for a walk/run/workout

Get Out of There!

With the proliferation of free wi-fi, this next suggestion is easier today than any other time. Take your writing from your “usual spot” and go somewhere new.

“Seven Steps for Overcoming Writer’s Block” by Dave Baker actually says this in three different ways. Get away from your desk, take your work elsewhere, and work on another project.  Ultimately they all suggest the same thing. Try something new.

At this point, I just heard my mother in my head: “If you always do what you’ve always done and expect to get a different outcome, you are practicing insanity.” Thanks, Mama. I hear you.

Whatever you are doing (or not doing), try something new today. Let me know how it went. Best of luck!