Sunday, August 14, 2011

Overcoming Writer's Block

Ever look at that blank page or screen and see it as the ultimate enemy just sitting there staring at you with its gaping expressionless maw as if it's ready to swallow you? Okay. Me neither, but I thought it looked good on paper. And, that fits right in with my first tip for overcoming writer's block.

1. Just write something -- anything! You can always go back over it and change it or erase/delete it later. Writing is just putting something down on paper or a computer screen, it's not set in stone! As writers we don't have to worry about how silly or inane our writing can be -- that's why we have editors and other helpful sorts, like proofreaders.

2. Get outside! If it's too cold or too hot or too rainy or too... just get away from your desk (or wherever you write) and do something, get some exercise, play with your dog, cat or kids -- go to the store, to the park, a restaurant -- maybe even a different restaurant than you usually go to. The idea here is to get some sort of stimulation that takes you outside of your own head.

3. Eavesdrop. Yes, you read that correctly and I'm here to admit that I do listen in on your conversations when I'm out and about. I'm not doing it to be rude, I'm doing it to get ideas for stories, poetry and songs -- even paintings or drawings. And the funny thing about listening into other people's conversations is most of the time the writing ideas that come have very little or nothing all to do with what I've just overheard. I think it just has something to do with hearing other people's voices talking about different situations, especially when we're on the outside of things that helps get those creative juices flowing again.

4. People watch! Yep! There is nothing like seeing a little kid on his bicycle or an attractive person jogging by or a couple out walking their dog or... You get the idea! Seeing people doing what people do also helps to stimulate our creative processes.

5. Write on a schedule. If you can get up and go to work and perform those tasks every day, then you can write a few words every day at a particular time each day. Personally, I love to write just before I go to bed. There's just something that feels so wonderful to me about getting my shower, getting into my comfortable night clothes, sitting on the edge of my bed and just setting pen to paper -- or fingers to computer keyboard keys. It's soothing and I find that I'm in just the right frame of mind for creative things like writing. I once knew a man who went to bed one hour earlier just so he could write in his journal every night, and his family knew to absolutely leave him to it unless there was an actual real emergency. But if night time's not your thing, then you might want to consider setting your alarm an hour early so you can start your day with a brisk round of writing. It doesn't matter what time you choose to write as long as you write.

When it comes right down to it, I think most ideas about overcoming writer's block boil right back down to what I said in tip number 2. -- get outside of your own head. We're creative people, we writers, and so we do a lot of what we do right inside of our heads and sometimes it gets a bit crowded, dusty, rusty, boring and all of the rest of it in there. We have to do something to wake up our brain cells again.

Just remember, writer's block is really just your mind telling you that you've stopped seeing writing for what it can truly be -- fun! So go out and have some fun, then come back and have some more fun by writing that bestseller!

We can do it!

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