Grinding through Writer’s Block

October 15, 2008

Ahhh, overconfidence…

So I had this assignment, which I mentioned in my last post. It started okay, but once I had the basic structure laid out, my brain froze. I couldn’t think of a way to expand the material, I couldn’t revise it… after a couple days of this, I could barely bring myself to look at it for more than a minute or two. As I mentioned, this project came from a friend of mine, with whom I usually work very well. It’s never been difficult for me to pick up his vibe. He sends an email or talks for a few minutes; I see where he wants the piece to go, and I get it there. Fast. As in, I’ve knocked stuff out on my lunch hour for this guy with zero problems.

Not so for the web content job. In fact, I hit a wall in every kind of writing I do–for two weeks! I’m finally out of it, as you can see. Here’s how I made it happen:

1. I ignored the problem. Sometimes, they really do go away. After a couple days, it was clear that R & R was not what the doctor ordered.
2. I wrote in a journal. There were two reasons for this. First, I wrote just to get back into writing, and journaling is the easiest form I know. Second, something had been on my mind, and writing in a journal helps to clear mental real estate for profitable redevelopment.
3. I set a timer for five minutes, and forced myself to write web content for those five minutes. It was awful, folks. Then I set the timer for ten minutes. Worse. I kept writing, after the timer went off, until I ran out of ideas. This was a key moment in block destruction: I had begun to write without feeling forced. The ideas were bad, but they were flowing again.
4. I decided I was done with the block and would write brilliantly, starting tomorrow. I believed I was telling myself the truth. I may have been lying, but you couldn’t have told me that.
5. I sat down with my drivel the next day, and rewrote it into something I was happy with. I submitted it this morning.

This process took two weeks, but it can be compressed. I should be able to push it to two or three days. Do something fun, journal, sleep; write on a timer, adjust attitude, sleep, and write. This was a two-reboot cycle block; others may require less. That’s what I hope… or should that be believe? Overconfidence didn’t help me here, but ordinary confidence is still a necessary attribute of a successful writing career.


2 Responses to “Grinding through Writer’s Block”

  1. Thanks so much for the post. I’ve definitely been having a block. Love #4 as I know that works for moods too. My problem is I broke my leg in 3 places, had surgery, and am getting cabin fever.
    All I want to do is go outside and do something!

    I will try the “time” thing too. Sounds good.
    Thanks again!

  2. linneawrites Says:

    Glad I could help. I recommend science fiction writing. You can’t get much father away than another universe…

    I hope you feel better soon!

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