Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tip O'Day #364 - Defeat the Blank Page

Guest blogger William D. Hicks has ten tips to overcome writer’s block.

If you’ve written long enough to have experienced writer’s block, you know how frustrating it is to sit in front of that computer with a blank screen staring back. Hopefully, one of these ten tips will help you start writing again.

1. Write now. Though writing through the block doesn’t seem rational, sometimes it works. Keep writing. I know it’s coming out wrong. So wrong you want to shred the paper, even though it’s on a computer screen. But don’t. Wait, keep writing. It’s an old writing technique. If you can’t think up anything to write, try doing a mind-dump. Just write everything in your mind, a stream of conscious dump, and see what comes out. Try this for a half hour. Is the block gone? If not, keep doing it. Eventually, you will have written something. While this something might look like what the cat coughed up it might also give you some great ideas for a story.

2. Be creative. Instead of writing, try painting, or drawing or playing music. Don’t worry about writing for now. You can write tomorrow.

3. Do the Opposites. Try an old actor’s trick and focus on not doing something. This often becomes the thing you want/need to do. Try telling yourself, “I don’t want to write.” Say that ten times out loud. Then do something else for a half hour. See how much you want to write afterwards. Try writing.

4. Exercise. This will pump blood into your brain and distract you from worrying. Plus it’s good for you. Once done, try writing.

5. Do a writing exercise. There are specific exercises available to spur different types of writing, e.g. poetry and fiction. Either buy a book or look online for exercises. It’s amazing the stories that have started as writing exercises.

6. Listen to music. Really listen to the words. How are they stitched together? Why? What do they mean? Try writing a song.

7. Go to a movie. Often this triggers an “I could have written that line better” thought. Write some thoughts down about the movie. Maybe even start a story from those thoughts.

8. Read a book. This often triggers the same response the as #7. I sometimes read a sentence and think, “Why did the author write it that way? I would have done it this way.” Again, that line might spur you onto writing a great story.

9. Review old unfinished manuscripts. You have them. We all do. Try to rewrite one. Editing might also spur you onto writing. Even if doesn’t, you’ll feel like you’re writing which should stop you from beating yourself up.

10. Ask writer friends how they’ve beaten writer’s block. If they have no answers, tweet/blog for suggestions. Most everyone has a trick that has worked for them. Try something that sounds appealing to you. If that doesn’t work, try something different.

In the end remember the famous Monty Python line, “And now for something completely different.” Cut yourself from slack and do something that doesn’t resemble writing. Go grocery shopping. Deposit your coins at the bank. Get your hair done. Take a leisurely bath. Don’t get hung up on the fact that you’re not writing. Everyone needs a vacation from time to time, even from what they love most.

Check out e-books by William D. Hooks on Amazon: Twist and Killer Flies.

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