By patrick | Tue, 03/03/2015 - 17:00
When Writer’s Block Happens
Ugh – some days, it’s easier to put words on paper than others. As a person that spends much of his professional time writing (proposals, website content, marketing documents, ad copy), there are far fewer things more frustrating than the dreaded Writer’s Block.
Sometimes, it’s unavoidable – for whatever reason, your brain has decided to stop sending any creative thoughts, has packed up for sabbatical, and has left you – pen in hand – staring numbly at a page. It happens to me all the time, but here are a few tricks I use that help pull my brain back into some productive prose:
Just start writing something
This seems really silly, right? You can’t think of anything to write, so how can you just start writing something?
Well, that’s a great start – write down: “I can’t think of anything else to write, but…” and let your hands start the talking and thinking for you.
You may never come up with a great idea, but if you start banging out random words for half an hour, chances are good you’ll have a cool souvenir you can look back at and wonder “what the hell was I thinking?” If you manage to give yourself a giggle, it’s worthwhile.
Get far away from any writing
The “Block” can happen because you’re too tense, too numb, too bored, too tired, or too blank to come up with any rational thought worth putting to paper. So don’t fight it – walk away. Let your mind wander to other pastimes, tasks or even what you’re going to have for lunch tomorrow. As your mind starts to wonder about things other than a lack of words on a page, you’ll be amazed how quickly ideas start to spill in from the sides.
When I’m dealing with an immovable block of torment, I like to go sit on a couch and daydream, play a stupid card game on my iPhone, throw darts, or even – more often lately than before – head out for a run. In times when my head gets to shift to “automatic”, it’s been amazing how many thoughts suddenly pour in.
These are simple. Once your head has shut down, it’s time to get it kick started back into action. In times when my head is absolutely stuck in neutral, I like to pick up some sort of different mind game to get it going.
Now, when I say “Mind Game”, it doesn’t mean trying to figure out women, or coming up with a reasonable rebuttal of String Theory. Depending on my mood, I can do something as simple as a crossword puzzle, to more challenging fare like decoding a Rubik’s Cube.
Anytime I get working on a puzzle or problem it manages to stimulate my thinking muscles, and before I know it, the brain is running like a well-oiled machine – not to mention the fact that I’ve managed to take my brain away from worrying about what to write.
These are just few tricks I use to get going. Feel free to share any you’ve found that work particularly well for you. The truth of the matter is that sometimes, as a writer, you just need to get out of your own way, and let the words happen. While rational thought and forming a cohesive statement are encouraged when writing anything for public consumption, your approach to arriving at them doesn’t need to be.
*Author’s Note – This entire blog was written because I had the Block, and couldn’t think of a decent blog topic (see trick #1). Not bad, huh?