Unblocking Writer's Block
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
At the start of the Spring Semester of 2017 at Purchase College, I was sure I was in a deep funk. The worst spell, the most horrendous curse any writer could possibly fall under—Writer’s Block.
Every time I picked up my notebook or opened my laptop to continue a piece, my hands were glued to the same scene.
“The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was the man from the night before…”
I couldn’t come up with material after that. I had a goal in mind. My character would wake up from a one-night-stand and have the awkward moment morning after with her future romantic interest. But I was always stuck on what to say after that sentence, how to describe the way the characters look and feel, how to show versus tell, how to go for a non-cliché angle, how to be original as possible. After weeks of pushing the story to the side, I began having the same problem with my other pieces, and I knew that I had the inevitable curse.
Writer’s Block is one of the most frightening things I have ever gone through because I felt like I was failing as a writer, the one thing I want to do with my future, and to see myself fizzle out—I felt forced out of my element. However, I wasn’t a quitter. I started researching ways and tactics to cure Writer’s Block. I’ve tried many, but the following eight are what I found the most helpful.
1. Follow a prompt: Sometimes following a different prompt can be great practice, or it can push your work into a different direction that might change your story for the better. Some helpful books I’ve purchased to play with prompts are “The Writer's Block: 786 Ideas To Jump-start Your Imagination” by Jason Rekulak, and “Complete the Story” by Piccadilly. Sometimes 5-below have these cute and simple "Complete the Story" books, or "500 Writing Prompts".
2. Listen to classical music: I found it distracting to listen to regular pop music, or any music with lyrics. I’ve found Classical music a better way to stay focused on a task.
3. Set a Daily Goal or Deadline: It was easier for me to write after I’ve set a goal for myself whether it be 1000 words, or finish a chapter, or a specific section a day. This helped me with my time management.
4. Read Your Work Aloud: Reading my work aloud has given me a chance to catch errors or fix up story logic and sometimes would give me inspiration for a different scene or I’d come up with new phrases. Reading my work aloud allowed me to expand in certain areas of writing.
5. Write in the mornings: After a good night’s sleep, and after hours of dreaming, the mind is more imaginative and creative when you wake up. Also, it’s much more quiet and peaceful in the mornings.
6. Step Away for Anything Creative: Sometimes it’s best to step away from a work for a bit when dealing with a block, but it’s even better to step away and do something creative that gets your creative drive moving. Try coloring, drawing, crafting, or even photography. When I have a block I begin to doodle anywhere in my notebook and my mind drifts as I draw. Next thing I know an idea splurges in my head.
7. Play A Writing Game: My favorite game to play is “Hot Laptop”. It requires a small group of people, but it’s worth it. It can be played on a laptop, or in a notebook, as long as each player has something to write on. The game starts with each player having only two minutes to start writing a story, whatever they like. After two minutes, everyone passes their stories to right, and the player to the right continues the story. This pattern continues until everyone has their original laptops, and then you share your stories. It’s an entertaining method and is a great way to get the mind moving.
8. Write to Write: Sometimes it’s good to just write whatever is in your head, not worrying about mistakes or rambling. Just get all of your thoughts out and worry about corrections later.
Through my research, I’ve slowly learned that Writer’s Block is just an illusion. It’s a wall Writer’s create subconsciously, due to many reasons.
1. Fear—A writer might have hesitations and doubt in their work.
2. Perfectionism—A writer might feel like their work is not good enough, and wants it to be better, but is unsure of how to make it better.
3. Poor Timing—A writer might not have the time to write or too short of a time to sit and write.
These three reasons for the lack of writing flow is the reason Writer’s Block has its name. These three reasons are what holds us writers back from our work and growth. It’s natural for hesitations to hold someone back, but it’s something we must push aside to produce good work.
The writing process focuses heavily on the revision process. A great story will be the result of recycling, recycling, and more recycling. The best parts will come in many the 5th revision, or maybe the 10th, but it’ll come once you take a second look.
Have faith and trust in your writing abilities and make time for it, because you love it.