Don’t hate me, but it’s rare that I can’t generate words when enveloped in my writing hidey-hole. For occasional lapses, here are several techniques to help you get past the Venus flytrap-like grip of writer’s block. Some methods are my own, and some are suggested by others. All of these ideas are non-threatening ways to unfetter yourself.
By relaxing your hermetically-sealed brain, you’ll loosen up the words and sentences stuck between your neurotransmitters. Whether you write for your business, a blog, a personal hobby or some other pursuit, better writing days await your fervid thoughts…
Let Your Early Words Flood Out (and Don’t Doubt): If you allow paralysis to set in at the beginning of a writing project, you’ll never get started. So, stop being the deer caught in the oncoming headlights of (what feels like) a 16-wheeler – let it all “write” out! Don’t judge your initial sentences, and don’t start editing your copy before it has a chance to breathe and be fully decanted.
I guarantee that if you let your words flow, the blog post, website, or marketing collateral copy you’re desperate to craft will rest comfortably on its first-draft cushion. Do you really think every first draft of a blog post I write is crisp, clear, and commanding? Think again…
Stimulate Your Five Senses, Not Your Overtaxed Brain: If the ideas aren’t swarming, consider bypassing your brain momentarily with some non-related stimuli. Gaze at a (print or web) series of images or photos that have nothing to do with your writing efforts.
If you’re about to make/get lunch or run an errand, put on some tunes. Sample a radio station or song rotation that isn’t your usual genre of music. Indulge in a seasonal or desired treat and take your time savoring the taste, texture, and temperature of your food or drink.
Another way to ease writer’s block is by taking a whiff of a spouse or partner’s perfume/cologne. (Behave – nothing kinky or voyeuristic is implied here!) Inhale deeply, let the scent push out negative thoughts, and then settle back into your writing nook for another try.
Finally, consider opening up an expired bag/box of beans or rice (yes, I’m serious). Dump it into a resealable container and run your fingers through the particles to ease your writing anxiety in a tactile way.
Step Away from Your Keyboard and Walk (or Pump Iron): I am the poster child for coming up with just the right brochure tagline or blog post headline during my run-walks. There is nothing like elevating your heart rate or building lactic acid in your muscles to dislodge a bad case of writer’s block!
Whether you overcome your word-like worries at the gym or while walking around your neighborhood, be sure to take a mini-notepad and pen or your mobile device with you. What’s the point in prying loose your words if you can’t capture them during a sweaty moment?
Inhale Some Inspiration at Your Local Bookstore: (Please note: If you have a book-purchasing addiction, this shouldn’t be your first option.) It’s unfortunate that independent bookstores in South Jersey are so few and challenging to discover. However, access to your closest Barnes & Noble beats no bookstore at all.
Go to a section you never visit that’s unrelated to your writing topic (Biography? Young Adult Lit? Cookbooks?). Then reach for a piece of word candy and let your mind wander.
A favorite brainstorming tool of mine is the “bargain book” area. Many obscure (and cheap!) gems of inspiration await you on these eclectic shelves. See, (the writing) life really is like a box of chocolates…
Others’ Suggestions for Removing the Writer’s Block Anvil from Your Chest: I don’t claim to be the only source of sage advice when it comes to blocked writing! Here are other resources to help you keep the pain of writer’s block at bay:
- Suggestions from The Center for Writing Studies (University of Illinois)
- Suggestions from The Future Buzz Media/Marketing/PR
- Suggestions from famous authors via Flavorwire (I particularly like the Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Hilary Mantel contributions.)
What do you do when the writing muse refuses to shower you with words? If you’re willing to share, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in an attempt to banish your writer’s block? Good thing this resolvable situation isn’t like having a cinder block tied to a sensitive part of your anatomy while standing on a ledge…
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a no-obligation project quote today!