Writer's Block:
3 Tips To Help Unlock Your Brain

Writer’s block—the nemesis great writers, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Charles Schulz.

writer's block

Probably all writers have experienced writer's block at one time or another, to one degree or another.

When your computer screen continues to blink back with sleepy indolence after you’ve stared at it for minutes, or even hours, take heart—you’re in good company! The best of writers have overcome writer’s block, and so can you.

Here are three tips that can help unlock your brain:

1. Pull out a different writing project. If you’re stuck on one project, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck on all writing projects. Mark Twain is said to have had several works going at the same time. When he got stuck on one, he would go to work on another project. Is there another story or article you’re working on that feels more interesting at the time? If so, take on that one instead.

2. Read for inspiration. Grab a book off your bookshelf, either fine writing for a relaxed read, or inspiring thoughts to push ahead. After all, what motivates us to be a writers in the first place is usually having been inspired by what we’ve read. If you want to write like Stephen King, the first step is to—you guessed it, read Stephen King!

3. Try “Freewriting.” This is a method of writing promoted by Peter Elbow, Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It means “to write without stopping, without editing, without sharing, without worrying about grammar, without thinking, without rushing.” Write whatever you want, however you want without holding back. Let go of being grammatically correct or having to have a certain structure, tone, or style. Just let go and write. As James Thurber said, “Don’t get it right, just get it written.” Although the main purpose behind Freewriting wasn’t to overcome writer’s block, it can still work.

Another aspect of Peter Elbow’s technique that works for me is, beginning with one central thought and put that in a balloon, then think of however many people or situations, etc., that might affect or be affected by the central balloon. Then, put each in their balloon and connect them with the central balloon and whatever else they connect with. Before I know it, I’ve got all sorts of relationships laid out and potential conditions (scenes) that just happen by themselves.

Writer’s block doesn’t simply go away. It can be frustrating, and even aggravating, but it doesn’t have to stop you. The best of the best writers have overcome it, and so can you.

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