Writer's Block? Refocus Your Mind

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What the h*** do I write about?

Ever since I was a little girl (a long time ago when the earth was green...) I have loved blank paper and sharpened pencils. Something about the infinite possibilities of the combination of the two, made my skin prickle with delight.

I could sit for hours gazing in loving reverance at a blank piece of paper. I could draw pictures, doodle, write words, anything a sharpened pencil could produce, so could I complete.

It didn't matter that I couldn't spell properly, or that I wasn't a good artist, the only thing that mattered was that I do something with that paper. And therein lay the problem.

What in heaven's name should I do? This pristine piece of paper would literally have me slavering to do something, and my brain was spinning in place like a hampster in a wheel trying to come up with just one small idea. It didn't matter how desperately I wanted to leave my mark on the world, my brain refused to work.

Out of sheer desperation, I began practicing my penmanship. Row after row of 'A's', 'B's' and 'C's' graced the white spaces between those blue lines. I tried changing the style of the letters, anything to continue the experience. That worked for quite a while actually - I managed to fill several sheets with variations of my name before tiring of the exercise.

I had no idea at the time that what I was experiencing was writer's block. Little did I know that people of all ages, at times, suffer from this stifling creative block.

...mind meets wall...
...mind meets wall...

Persistence, inspiration, and motivation

Because I still have a love of paper and pencil, it took forever, it seems, to adjust to the modern version of the typewriter - the computer. Unfortunately, the stigma of what to write still haunts me when faced with a blank screen.

So in order to leap over this (at times formidable) barricade, I redirect my gaze from the screen in front of me, to the keyboard under my fingers. A myriad of possibilities rise up from the keys jostling each other for their rightful place on the screen. The inspiration I have been searching for is literally under my fingertips.

By readjusting the focus from screen to keyboard, the mind stops spinning in place, and starts automatically putting words together. With a little bit of concentration, your creativity shifts from static to moving - not necessarily flowing yet, but the process has been initiated.

Keeping your eyes on the keyboard in front of you, look at each letter and think of a word starting with the key you have chosen. As an example, the letter 'T' - travel, tidbit, tired, Thursday, thirsty, tiny, toll-booth, trip, trim, etc. Any one of those words can lead you to a topic (another 'T' word.)

If that doesn't work, pick another letter - 'C' - cat cathartic, catch-all, carry, cash, coin, clever...you get the point. Your brain will start supplying you with words, and before you know it, you will have thought of something to write about. Once you begin seeing the possibilities, the words flow from the keys...and you have the starting point to write an article.

ok...gimme a pen...quick!
ok...gimme a pen...quick!

Think outside the box

Believe it or not, reading a good book can jump start your imagination. I find that I sometimes cycle through reading and writing. When I find my interest in writing waning, I hit the local library and stock up on slush books - quick easy reads that stimulate my thoughts. For me, a good mystery jump starts my mind. Sometimes I just need a break from thinking about how a story or article will begin and end, and lose myself in something that someone else has already slaved over!

It could take a day, two days or sometimes a week before my batteries are recharged and I'm ready to look at that blank screen again - this time with new ideas.

Rewrite or edit an older article

One way to get your creative juices flowing again is to revisit an article that you wrote when you first began writing. Even though it still has great content and flows well, there are still small things that can be done to improve it.

Maybe changing the title, adding pictures or 'fluffing' (the adding of additional information) can keep an article fresh. This process, although tedious at times, is a good way to get your mind working again, which is what I am doing now!

Another great tool is to have several articles in different stages of completion. This way, you don't have a chance to lose interest. Having more than one article, book or hub on the go can be a challenge, but for those of us who need the mental stimulation, this practice can be a good way to keep up with your writing.

Switch it up

Another practice that I have started is to write at different times of the day. I know that not every has this opportunity, and most of us have jobs or family obligations that prevent us from sitting down at the computer. However, I discovered that I do have a few minutes throughout the day, but not to sit at my desk. I was given a tablet for Christmas, and I have found that I can manage to put a few thoughts down while waiting for potatoes to boil, sweating onions, and preheating the oven! Puts a whole new face on multi-tasking!

Something else that I do is write while listening to the television. Periodically, I glance at the screen, giving me a small break from looking at type face, and that generally makes my mind gather the momentum to think of more information.

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Follow your thoughts

With luck and a good bit of writing, each sentence sets up it's sequel, and the motivation that you need to continue is born. Sometimes I take a step back and a re-read so I don't derail my train of thought, but for the most part the words follow each other like the letters of the alphabet. (Just not always in order!)

Once you get a thought, follow it. Words come easier when your hands are typing. When you stop, so does your brain, and it can derail your train of thought like a penny on a railway track. If you find it difficult to think of information, sometimes just writing disjointed thoughts and words down is enough to help you find your way.

But the most important thing you can possibly do to jump start your imagination is to keep writing. The more you exercise your vocabulary in print, the more your mind wakes up. It starts remembering adjectives, correct spelling, story lines, synonyms and sentence structure. It automatically starts combining all these elements and before you know it, the words form a (hopefully) cohesive, interesting story.

And for those of us who aren't cohesive, remember you can always edit! The point is to keep writing - keep putting words down one after the other, and before you know it, you have completed that article or novel.

And whether you are trying to be a best selling author, make money writing online, become a copywriter, or just writing for your own enjoyment, this has to be the best exercise around.

Copyright Enelle Lamb 2009 - Please do not copy and paste this article, but feel free to post a link using this url: http://hubpages.com/hub/Overcoming-My-Biggest-Challenge

Be Honest...

Have you ever experienced writer's block?

  • Sigh...the jig is up! Yes. I admit it!
  • Never! My mind spins like a hamster wheel at midnight.
  • Who me? Of course not...well...maybe once...but I wasn't really blocked...just sluggish...it was early...I was out of coffee...
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Comments 14 comments

goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

I like this write up. Its a process that I think all writers relate to. where to begin, where to begin, I usually begin with the ending, myself.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Thanks goldentoad :) (love the name btw) I can relate to beginning with the ending...I always have one in mind. "...and they lived happily ever after..."


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

good article keep wrting more


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Thank you for your words of encouragement Lgali, I'm glad you liked the hub


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

You have a great writing style.

So you are a Rio Grande Valley girl? I lived for 9 years in McAllen. That was many moons ago!


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Peggy, thank you so much for that awesome compliment! I should be so lucky to be a Rio Grande Valley girl...but alas I don't even qualify for a Valley girl LOL...I'm a Canuck through and through (although my mother did run away to Alaska so I'm American by marraige LOL)


2patricias profile image

2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

We find that it is helpful to spin ideas with a friend (in our case between the two of us). We meet face to face about once a month to plan what to write about on our website. Sometimes we work indoors, at the computer, other times we go to a cafe, or for a walk. In cold weather we have used the basement of our local library. The point being that a change of venue can sort of shake the imagination.

Thanks for an interesting Hub.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

2patricias - What an excellent way to jump start your creativity. I've been told a change is as good as a rest! I will have to give this a try...


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

Love this hub, Enelle - great tip about looking at the key board. I have to admit that is often how I type (and not because I am searching for ideas, LOL)


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

RedElf - Then you are a jump ahead of the rest of us! It does work lol


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

Enelle, I like the keyboard idea. I tend to look down at it but I never thought of using it to help rid myself of writers block.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Thanks Gals, I have used this method many times with good results :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

What a novel idea! Reminds me of English 101 in college when the instructor would have us take pen in hand and "just write", even if it was nothing but gibberish at first. ;D


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

I tried that method, but mostly ended up doodling! Harder to do when using the keyboard ;) LOL

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