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Writer's Un-Block – Breaking Through the Blockage

Unblocking Writer's Block

As a writer I am not pedantic about how I write or what I write, but I do try to be disciplined about when I write. In my work calendar, I have cordoned off time slots for writing. I allow myself to move these slots around, as needed, but I don't like to give-up on the writing time. It keeps me disciplined. These slots appear daily. It may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I have labelled these slots "Writer's Block," because this time is blocked for me to write.

So here I am, with three hours to kill, my laptop is locked and loaded, my fingers are poised, my phone on silent. Time to put all distractions aside (as much as possible) and just forge ahead. One problem: my writer’s block is blocked. It would be so easy to move the slot over to another time. I could go for a walk, clear my head, meditate, call up a friend, have a shower or binge watch something. Some people would cook or bake in that time, but I prefer to continue to stare at the blank screen. I don't want to do any of those things.I won't give up. This is my writing time. I want to be disciplined ... because this is it, this is my Work – with a capital W.

So, what can one do, if you don't want to let it go, to unblock the creative barricade, brick by brick? Here are a few simple ideas that I like to use:

  • Begin to write by copying other writing ... anything: a page from a book, an article, a flyer, a Chinese take-out menu. The idea is that the mere act of copying will trigger your own original thoughts.

  • Remember back in the day? Write an essay like you had to do when you were a kid: "My Summer Holiday", "A Day I Will Never Forget", "My Favourite Animal", "My hobbies," the combination of going back to basics and nostalgia is always a winner.

  • The Internet is a wondrous think. Check out what’s happening right now in your home town, country or in the world, and write about that. Or else check out what happened in the past. The topics could be anything that you are passionate about: history, literature, sports, food, woodcarving, whatever! (Did you know that today in 1942, the novelist L. M. Montgomery died. I will read ANYTHING, but I could never get into "Anne of Green Gables" –now that's something to write about!)

  • Transcribe a conversation that you had from memory. This is a great technique to practise dialog writing – and embellishment.

  • For a truly random writing experience, there are multiple sites for generating random blog titles. Here are just two: check out The Blog Post Idea Generator and Title-Maker. Do not mock them until you have tried them ... at very least, they will make you think.

  • If you are writing a novel and you have already fleshed out the characters, take one of the minor characters and begin to work on a back story for them. Who are they really? How did they win a place in your literary vision?

The brain is a muscle, and the more you work it, the more it will work for you. On the other hand, the more it atrophies, the less likely you are to break out of the block. Have any other ideas for unblocking the block? I would love to hear them...

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