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Out of Ideas? Tips for Overcoming Writer's Block
Every writer has those days or even weeks when she/he feels like the words aren’t flowing as freely and easily as they should. I often get this feeling when I have to start a new grant proposal for work and dread putting the first words on the page. It is not so much that I am at a lost as to how to answer the questions. But, I just have a hard time getting started. This situation can develop into writer’s block if I don’t get a move on and begin writing. True writer’s block occurs when writers get in the habit of not writing and allow their inaction to control all their thoughts about the writing process. You develop a constant worry about when the inspiration will hit you. Next thing you know ~ you can’t write at all.
My Blank Pages
When "just write" doesn't work . . .
Don’t fall into that writer’s block trap. There is a way out of the endless cycle of no writing. I know everyone has heard the advice to “just write,” as a way to get over writer’s block. So, how do you do that? The problem is that this advice really doesn't work. You can’t write ~ you have writer’s block. Advice to “just write” is plain silly and doesn’t really address how to get started. Here are some real, concrete tips to get your through those dry spells and back to writing in no time.
- Ask yourself how you are feeling. Many a great poem started with this concept. Fill in the blanks to some of these questions:
I feel _____________________.
I like _____________________.
________________happened to me today.
I wish ____________________.
Guess what? Filling in these blanks is writing and maybe, just maybe a great idea will be the result. If all you do is write the answers to these questions on a daily basis, at least you are writing which is the ultimate goal.
- Write something for someone else. Sometimes we get blocked because we are trying too hard. So, put your own project aside for a bit. Write a letter of recommendation for someone, do a bio for someone and give feedback on an article or web posting. These actions are incidents of writing that could very well get you back into the habit of writing and able to refocus on your own projects.
- Read someone else’s writing. Think about when you were in junior high and had to write those book reports. Read a book or short story and summarize it with your own insights. Do a critique of what you liked and didn’t like about the book. You accomplish two things: you are writing and the exercise of constructive criticism might lead you to find a way to produce something of your own.
- Think about your past. A great way to get to writing is to describe something that happened in your past that had an impact on your life. Sharing a story that gives advice to others about what you learned and seeing how far you have come are great ways to put the pen to the paper (or the fingers to the keyboard). Everyone has a story to tell.
Hopefully the exercises above will get you back into the writing spirit. Writer's block is all in the mind and with a little effort you can train yourself out of this temporary slump. If you have any tips to beat writer's block, please add to this list.