Submitted Date 01/28/2019

Overcoming Writer's Block


The worst feeling in the world for a writer is feeling so deeply inspired to write, but the moment you sit down with your pen and notebook, a big fat nothing hangs at the front of your mind. You feel as though you've got so much to say, yet not a single word comes to mind.

I struggle with this often, and it's extremely frustrating. I think part of why this is such a huge struggle for me, and probably for other writers too, is because I always put pressure on myself to write things that are great and meaningful. But maybe not everything I write needs to have a place in publication or some deep underlying message. Maybe it's okay, and even helpful, to write things that aren't all that great sometimes.

What I mean is that it's better to try and write something, no matter how terrible you think it is, rather than to let the writer's block get to you and write nothing. Sometimes you just need to get the creative juices flowing a bit before something great comes. Sometimes you will have bad days and nothing great will come. That's okay.

Like everything else in life, writing takes practice. If you played baseball, but weren't really feeling up to playing one day, would you just skip practice? No, you'd go, because in order to keep your stamina up, you need to keep practicing. Well, the same thing goes for writing.

If you are having a block, one thing you could do to get yourself writing is to try rewriting something that you've already written in the past strictly from memory. Not only will it get your creativity flowing, you may discover new things about the piece you are rewriting. Another thing you can try is to write about something that has actually happened to you. That way you don't have to come up with a new story to write about, but it still gets you writing.

If you really want to come up with a totally new story, I do know of two word games that you can play with yourself to spark up new story ideas. My writing professors at college played these games with us to help generate story ideas, and then I played these games with my students when I worked as a creative writing tutor.

The first game is the "any word game". Clear your mind, and then let a surprise word come to you. Write this word down. Now see whatever this word gives you to see. If you're lucky, you'll spark up a story idea from the first word. If not, then keep repeating this process, making sure to clear your mind of any preplanned words with each new word you come up with, allowing each word to be a surprise word. Eventually, you should be able to spark up some story idea to write about. Maybe all you'll get out of this game is a scene and not a full story, but that's okay. Write it down. At least it's something.

The second game is the "person action person game". The way this game works is that you come up with a person, either a man, woman, boy, or girl. Keep it between these four things. Don't get specific and say something like 40-year-old policeman; just say man. This gives your mind more room to explore and be creative. Once you've got your first person, come up with an action word. You want this word to be any type of verb that creates an interaction between the two people. For example, slap is a good action word because it creates an immediate interaction between two people. However, like is not a good action word, because you can like someone and never interact with them. Lastly, you pick your second person. Again, keep it between man, woman, boy, or girl. Then put all three words together. I'll give an example: woman caress man. You can do this as many times as you need to spark up a story idea. Once you're ready to begin writing, try starting as close to that interaction as you can. You can go back to add context or a build up later, but starting right at that point of interaction forces you to keep your writing moving rather than getting stuck in a model telling or character history. It's a great way to get you into that writer's flow right off the bat.

I hope that one or more of these ideas is helpful for you the next time you find yourself struggling with writer's block. Just be sure to write something, even if it's just a page, and even if you don't feel like it's your strongest work. Writing something is always better than writing nothing.


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