Excerpt: How to Punch Your Way Through Writer’s Block

“Books have bad patches. . . . The important thing is to get through
them,
to get the words down however ill-chosen they may seem. . . . I tell myself that
I’m going to do my five or ten pages no matter what, and that I can always
tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and
tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took

the day off, and I’ll have avoided guilt and at least kept my fingers limber.”
—Lawrence Block

This thing we call “writer’s block” is a different experience for different writers. For some, it is an inability to generate ideas—imagination at an impasse. For others, it’s a lack of inspiration and motivation, an inability to get started, a sense of terminal procrastination and ennui. Sometimes writer’s block is that sense of malignant self-doubt we feel after having our work rejected, ignored, or savagely criticized.

In essence, writer’s block is simply not knowing what to write next. The ideas, scenes, and words you need are just not there. Fortunately, writer’s block is quite treatable. You just have to know a few techniques to become re-inspired and re-ignited as a writer. Let me share with you a few “block-busting” techniques I use to punch through writer’s block. I’m sure they’ll work for you.

Writer’s Block-Buster Number 1: Withdraw briefly. Sometimes pushing too hard can block your imagination. To write, you need to be relaxed, free, and uninhibited. So take 20 minutes away from your keyboard to adjust your focus. Lie down and put your feet up, close your eyes, clear your mind, pray, meditate, or daydream. Or get some exercise. Or take a hot shower. Or listen to music.

As you relax, your subconscious mind will keep working on the story. You’ll find that inspiration and ideas will seem to pop up in your mind out of nowhere. Suddenly, you’ll know exactly what you need to do—and you’ll have to hurry to your keyboard to set it all down. When your conscious mind withdraws, you give your subconscious mind freedom to play. Try it. You’ll be amazed at how creative you become when you simply take a short mental break from your writing.

For the rest of this article, go to Writer’s Block—What Is It and How Can You Avoid It.

And read Jim Denney’s first two articles in this three-part series:

The Need for Speed: How Does Writing Faster Make You A Better Writer?

How to Write Faster in Seven Easy Steps

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2 Comments

  1. www.caribbeanmarvel.wordpress.com

     /  November 7, 2012

    I started my blog as a cure to writer’s block… journalism writer’s block, which was the result of being laid off. I figured if I could write short pieces it may serve as a kick start. I have since become interesting in creative writing and started a new blog for my posts which i write based on challenges from word press.
    I now have two blogs.
    Other bloggers are helping because they encourage me with likes, now I think it would help if we could leave a critical comment that will help fellow writers. Someone said that this to be discouraged because some comments may be too harsh and could instead set up a writer’s block.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for that insight! Blogging as a cure for writer’s block—great idea. It can keep your creative, intuitive mind engaged and inspired until you recapture the inspiration for your book or story. Ray Bradbury said, “If you have writer’s block, cure it right now by stopping what you’re writing and doing something else.” That “something else” might as well be a blog. You’ll be writing for the public, you’ll get feedback from the public, and you might just get an insight that will feed and inspire your muse.

    Personally, I tend to give encouragement to other writers while inviting criticism for myself. Not everybody is receptive to criticism. Some are easily hurt. But at some point we all need to develop a thick enough hide to withstand (and learn from) tough critiques from editors, readers, and critics.

    I was blessed, early in my writing career, to work on a string of books with one of the toughest editors in the business. She never had a word of praise for my work, and I particularly recall one book where she told me, “Cut this way back. Kill chapter 5, take it out, it’s boring, and you can’t fix it. Write a new chapter that will hold my interest.” Not pleasant to hear, but I learned a lot from her blunt criticism—and don’t we always learn more from criticism than from praise? Whenever she accepted my work without changes, I knew she liked it. If she ever said, “This is pretty good,” wow, that was high praise!

    So, bottom line, I think it’s good to invite criticism. I certainly invite anyone to criticize anything you see here on this blog, and whether I agree or disagree, I won’t be defensive or offended. I welcome your thoughts. Being open to criticism is one sign of a professional writer.

    Thanks again for your insightful comments. I wish you great success with your writing! —JD

    Reply

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