Beat Writers Block

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Sean Kinn in Manhattan

You may have to get out of the house to jog your writer's brain. Heck, New York is right down the street if you live in the United States. If you've never visited, you should. The ceiling in Grand Central Station is worth the trip - just the ceiling.
You may have to get out of the house to jog your writer's brain. Heck, New York is right down the street if you live in the United States. If you've never visited, you should. The ceiling in Grand Central Station is worth the trip - just the ceiling. | Source

One creativity trick I developed over the years is to scan in rejection notices and published clips - add digital photographs and other reminders of past projects - and load into a digital photo frame that you set on your desk - beside your computer monitor.

It works great to jog your memory and provide new and old things to write about - topics you should cover but simply forgot about over time.

Tamp it down ...

Writers block is in your head.

It’s like jogging. If you can take your mind off the task at hand - you'll do fine.

That may not sound like good advice for an author. In fact, now you're asking yourself: Good God - how could someone write without thinking?

If writing is your profession, and you are unable to produce new work, you may be having temporary difficulty putting pen to paper - or you may be crying yourself to sleep at night - because you used to have a writing career.

Locked in a room with a hoagie sandwich. There's a story in writers' circles about an author who was once locked in a room until she produced a certain number of words for her editor (they may have given her a bottle of water along with the sandwich).

All joking aside, she wrote the required text to escape the room because she could not take her mind of escaping the room. Neat little trick aye?

You'll see after reading this Hub that writer's block is about distractions - which means you must distract yourself from your distractions - so you can write.

Reasons vary. Although the term “writer’s block” is usually associated with professional writers who are unable to put food on the table - it can happen to anyone - and the reasons vary:

  • General lack of creativity for reasons unknown (could be that a writer has lost her or his mojo in general - or maybe they just need some guidance from Donald Maass).
  • No specific inspiration for a particular piece of writing (which means they probably need a muse or should consider getting a life - more on that below).
  • Maybe they have unneeded distractions (which should be eliminated).
  • Or an inability to prioritize (think: eliminate distractions).
  • Depression or marital stress involving a spouse who prefers that they someday stop with their want-to-be-a-writer nonsense) could be a possible reason (can you say, "Quitters never win, winners never quit"?).
  • Maybe there are health issues (get some exercise - see below).
  • Fear of success (get over it - you deserve to succeed).
  • Fear of completing large projects (very similar to the fear of success - but includes procrastination - I’ll soon write a full Hub on the fear of completing large projects - because this often stops writers from reaching their full potential).
  • General stress or fatigue (get a good night’s sleep or take a nap).

There are obvious solutions for nearly every type of writer’s block - which is why I maintain that it exists in peoples’ minds only when they allow it to be there.

Get started. Many writers are self taught and learn their trade by way of reading other writers' work - which is not to say that they are copycats. Rather, they learn the basics of writing an article's introduction, body and conclusion (for example) by reading magazine articles and nonfiction books written by professionals - then mimic writing mechanics and style. Rephrased, they learn how to feel comfortable penning text in a manner that is very similar to the way in which they read - because the basic formats are somewhat "engraved" on their brains.

If you haven't figured it out yet - the suggestion is to just start writing and not become overly concerned with the details. Generate a quick first draft - edit later (more on that below).

Start writing anything. Write an email message, Twitter tweet, or any short text to warm up to pounding the keyboard. Alternately, write something a little longer - such as that letter of complaint you’ve been meaning to send to the company that built your mountain bike. Write your mom, dad, bro, or sis a letter. Heck, throw a paper letter in the mail - maybe you'll save the U.S. Postal Service.

Penning text warms you up to pen other text.

Booze it up (not). Allowing your writing to “ferment” doesn’t have anything to do with alcohol. It just refers to the old freelance trick in which you let your words rest for three days, and then conduct a self-edit - which usually turns into a rewrite.

You may believe yourself to be a good writer - and you are! However, this cooling off period allows you to see unintentional errors such as:

  • "It's" versus "its"
  • "Their" versus "there" versus "they're"
  • "Two" versus "to" versus "too"
  • "Your" versus "you're"
  • ... and so forth (you’ll laugh at the errors you find).

It also makes clunky wording stick out like a sore thumb - text that you originally thought was written in an exceedingly clear manner. I do this all the time and say "wow" to myself when I see sentences I wrote - that became nonsensical three days later (it makes you squint at your original words, trust me).

You will see errors in the general flow of your writing (in your informal outline) - errors you didn’t notice while writing because you were too heavy into the details of the text.

Knock out a first draft quickly, as noted above - write any old thing you want - then take a look at your gibberish three days later. It's a fun exercise that completely eliminates any possibility of writer's block - and makes your writing more powerful.

Write drafts for other articles while waiting out the three days - if you please.

Power nap. This won't work if you don't get it right. You must strive for a very short nap - no more than fifteen or so minutes - and you must also seek out total quiet and darkness (don't be surprised if you wake up in the dark and don't know where you're at).

Use window shades and ear plugs, if you must. When you wake up refreshed - words and ideas flow.

Get a life. If you can't seem to find anything to write about for lack of ideas - take a walk. Literally. Walk outside for some fresh air. Find a park. Walk downtown. Take a bike ride. Go on a weekend trip. Get out and do something to experience your world and ideas will seemingly arrive from nowhere. You wouldn’t have taken on the task of becoming a writer if you were not a creative person - you may just need some inspiration to get going again.

Get some exercise. This technique is similar to "get a life" - but focuses on physical fitness. Breaking a sweat loosens the brain molecules and forces thought process. Talk to your doctor first if you are not already a fitness nut or have health concerns.

Brainstorm. Write the word "article" on a piece of a paper. Then write the words "article about a dog." Next, write "article about a dog sitting beside a house." If you own a dog, write your story. All dog owners have a Marley & Me story in them.

People who don't have pets can write about their bicycles or their cars; their house or their apartment; the town or area in which they live; the people in their local park; or what goes on in that patch of woods right outside their window.

Brainstorming is easy. It's just a matter of picking up a pad of paper and jotting ideas as they come.

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. Stay up really late until you can hardly see straight - then start drinking coffee (kidding).

A number of writers I know intentionally go to bed early at night - specifically to get up extremely early the next morning - to allow time to write before they begin their day. Some get in a five or six hours - every day - plus weekends - means they might get in an extra 40-hour work week while the world is sleeping.

Which brings up the question of whether sunrises or sunsets are better for a writer’s work ethic. Tuh-mey-toh / tuh-mah-toh, aye?

All that aside - no alcohol, no nicotine, healthy food, a fitness regime, a good night's rest, and rising many hours before the crack of dawn can greatly assist clear thought process - if you've never tried it before.

Get a muse. Many writers use online discussion groups to exchange ideas. Often, people are muses without realizing it. I have a friend who I network with every day via cell phone and email. He's a muse and doesn't even know it.

Can’t find someone to be your muse? Search for and answer Hub questions by writing Hubs about queried topics.

Ain’t HubPages a great place to be?

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Comments 12 comments

LittleFairy profile image

LittleFairy 5 years ago

I am currently going through writer's block, I loved the point which suggested to write anything, its one of the commonest ways to break out of this situation but I always seem to overlook it! Thanks for the tips :D


JT Walters profile image

JT Walters 5 years ago from Florida

Great artilce!!


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX

Sean - Good write up. I feel like writing only when I feel like writing. If I had to write for a living I might starve to death. I write because I truly enjoy creating a work that informs people where they might learn something. I like to create being a Pisces.

This is a very good thought you penned:

"which is why I maintain that it exists in peoples’ minds only when they allow it to be there."

That goes for just about anything. Things are only there because you let them be there - positive or negative.

Excellent Hub.

The Frog


sean kinn profile image

sean kinn 5 years ago from Key West and Budapest Author

Thanks for all the comments. I actually get writer's block quite often, but slap myself around (not literally) until my keyboard starts humming again. :-) Sean


THAT Mary Ann 5 years ago

I'd like to propose one more suggestion,

"OPEN YOUR EYES AND EARS!"

I am one who does not believe in so-called "writers' block." If you just look around you, walk down the street, look around your home, talk to a friend, listen to a stranger-- a real observer of the human condition will see several topics in one sitting.

This does NOT mean that one should write something about everything one sees and hears. People who generate dozens of daily posts, for example, really need to ask themselves HINESTLY how much quality can be packed into that kind of over-production?

Even God rested on the Sabbath!


sean kinn profile image

sean kinn 5 years ago from Key West and Budapest Author

Frog Prince, I think more people should write because they can. I'm reading at your "Do Nothing... " Hub [http://hubpages.com/politics/So-Lets-Just-Do-Nothi...], and if more people would insert their opinion into the masses the way you do, I think it could affect some change in the country, which we kinda/sorta NEED right about now. SK


cwarden profile image

cwarden 5 years ago from USA

Great hub and tips! I will be trying out some of these. Thanks!


writer20 profile image

writer20 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

good tips thank you. I have just got over a writers block that lasted 6 months, I couldn't believe my creative brain had gone dead. Then the penny dropped, my husband has been sick and my concern for him soaked up my brain, until just this week. It feels amazing to be back.


sean kinn profile image

sean kinn 5 years ago from Key West and Budapest Author

Writer20, glad you liked it. I'm going to add some more links and info, try to make it a comprehensive guide. I'm also working on a Hub that covers ways to generate writing ideas. Sean


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

Time of day has a lot to do with my writer's block as well. In general, I'm more creative at night. Some distractions cannot be eliminated-my cat, for example. She is in charge. Sometimes she will sit in front of the screen or on my notebook, etc. until she is fed, and she must be given sufficient love. ;) I like to read my text aloud when I'm editing. Sometimes when I do not know what to write I simply write down chores I have to do. eg. I must vaccuum. I have to go shopping. etc.


wba108@yahoo.com profile image

wba108@yahoo.com 5 years ago from upstate, NY

Sean-

Voted up and awesome,Very nicely written article! Good insights into the world of a writer and how to maintain a balanced life.-WBA


cygnetbrown profile image

cygnetbrown 4 years ago from Alton, Missouri

I think we all need to determine that we are going to sit in a room and write or we can't do something else that we think we might want to do. If we determine that we will write, no matter what, we finally do. I've never had writer's block, if anything, my problem has always been opposite. I could write all day long for the rest of my life and never run out of material.

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