Unblocking Writers’ Block

Virtually every writer experiences writers’ block. This is a temporary (hopefully) inability to write. It often manifests itself in symptoms most non-writers can’t understand summarized by “I can’t write this nowâ€.

            As I began writing curriculum for college and university level classes, workshops, and seminars on writing, I had to consider solutions to “writers’ blockâ€. I finally adapted and modified the “clear the decks†and “just start writing†theories of curing writers’ block.

            Clear the decks originally focused on uncluttering the writer’s physical environment. “Empty one’s desk completely of all non-project related stuff; add at least three sharpened pencils lined up perfectly, and stack all needed files, photocopies, and reference books.â€

            One might also wish to wipe down the work surface to clean off coffee stains, dried tears of frustration, and crumpled up self-rejected drafts from one’s last writing project.

            My approach focuses on mentally clearing the decks for a new project. I like to clear my mind of distractions; read and collect initial research; make copies of interesting articles, reports, etc. and otherwise sharpen my knowledge of the product of my next writing assignment.

            Inspiration doesn’t pop into one’s mind from outer space, divine intervention, or lightening. It comes from having studied and explored the topic.

            Get started. Write anything. Play with words, phrases, and concepts on your laptop. Write, write, write. Express whatever is on your mind even if it doesn’t closely relate to your assignment. I’ve been known to write, “Why did my boss give me this dull-as-dishwater assignment!â€

            Soon, you will begin to write related words and phrases for your piece. And more and more will come. Some early random pieces of copy will be your best and will lead to other ideas. The act of writing promotes thought and thought encourages good writing.