An open letter to Writer’s Block

Bust Writer's Block

Dear Writer’s Block,

Thanks to you, it’s taken me almost ten minutes to write this sentence. You’re the gag gift that comes with every blank page. The side of half-baked brussel sprouts with every meal.

You are more persistently irritating than a grain of sand nailed to the eyeball. You are a plague to writers around the world. You poison our creative wells with anxiety and depression to make sure we still suffer even when you’ve moved on to your next victim.

We cannot find peace even when you grow bored with us. For when you leave, we know you’ll come back. You always do. When we least expect it. When we most need you to leave us alone and let us work.

You, dear Writer’s Block, defy all reason and logic. Many, even fellow writers, simply don’t believe in you.

Continue reading

4 ways to write your way out of writer’s block, fast

Bust Writer's Block

Having writer’s block and a looming deadline can zap your creative juices faster than a cat can claw you for rubbing its belly.

There’s always typing with your eyes closed but sometimes —such as when your brain is stressed — closing your eyes just gives your brain time to invent horrors that will befall you should you fail.

Most often, when you’re blocked, it’s not because you can’t find any words; it’s because you can’t settle on the right words. You expect perfection the first time out.

Add to that being under the proverbial gun to produce, and you’ve got pressure.

So much pressure.

Sometimes you thrive. Other times, you need an escape route.

Give yourself something to edit.

Continue reading

How to Win a Stare Down with the Blank Page

You can’t think yourself out of a writing block,
you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.
– John Rogers, Kung Fu Monkey, 06-25-11

The blank page can be intimidating. And when you get into a staring down with it, you know you’re gonna be the first to blink. (You’re the one with eyelids.)

So, type with your eyes closed.

This won’t work for editing, proofreading, revising, child watching or any other task that requires your close attention to detail.

But if you need to brainstorm or start a first draft, this could be your magic bullet.

It gives you:

Focus
You literally can’t see temptation. No email, no laundry, no dirty dishes. It’s just you, your brain and your keyboard. Tunnel vision at its finest (pun intended).

Introspection
This sort of self-induced sensory deprivation leaves you with only your thoughts for company. And writing as your only course of action. If something’s bothering you, this drags that little gremlin out of hiding and puts it in the spotlight.

The Win
The blank page can’t stare you down if you’re not looking at it. And when you open your eyes after putting words to the page, that page is no longer blank. You took the hardest step. You started writing.

Here’s an excerpt from what I wrote yesterday with my eyes closed.

(Note: Ambient sounds were bugging me, so I also had my noise-canceling ear buds in and whale songs playing on my iPod. Loved it.)

Today I give myself permission to write crap. At this moment, my eyes are closed, whale songs are singing in my ears and I can’t see what I’m writing. The blank page has no power over me because I cannot see it.

Argh, I keep peeking to make sure my fingers are at least on the right keys.

Stop peeking. Okay, I’m done peeking. My fingers are on the (dang it, I peeked and edited) the right keys. Let’s get to writing.

Here’s what I know about freelancing (even though a tiny voice in my head doesn’t want to write about freelancing right now – it wants to make up stories.) So okay, let’s make up a story. A horrible story. A terrible story. Full of typos, bad grammar and horrible characters.

(And I start by editing my first sentence. Awesome. This closed-eye trick is harder than you think.)

Okay, here we go again. And I’m still peeking. If ever there was a time to write with my eyes closed, now’s the perfect time because I’m not turning this in. So I can make as many mistakes as I want. No one cares. It’s just me and the keyboard and my brain.

It’s the brain that keeps me hung up. It thinks too much. It must have a lot to say. Okay, brain. What’s up?

After a few more minutes of rambling, my brain started quick-shooting ideas for blog posts, novels, short stories and industries, markets and niches I want to explore.

I also realized that I say “okay” a lot.

And, once my brain calmed down, I discovered a wonderful character with a wonderful story that I need to write. So I kept my eyes closed and poured it on the page until I reached a comfortable stopping point. Then, I was able to move on to my day’s priorities.

Total time spent (including my rambling)? Less than 30 minutes. After that, I turned my timer off. I’d found my groove. Got everything done, had a relaxing evening and went to bed happy.

Give it a try. Tell us how you did.