Shelley Widhalm

Beating Writer’s Block

In 52 Writing Topics, Shelley Widhalm, Writing group on October 14, 2012 at 11:00 am

As a writer, this is my worst enemy – not fast-approaching deadlines, picky editors or a lack of time. Nope, it’s the dreaded writer’s block.

Writer’s block is the state of writing that involves the opposite, or the state of not writing caused by fear, laziness or lots of excuses.

In cases where the block isn’t full on, it can involve slow, methodical writing that causes agony as each word is crafted as if penciling the individual dots of the letters.

When writer’s block occurs, your conscious mind informs you that you can’t get started writing, you have nothing to write or you need inspiration to write, but it’s not there. Or your conscious mind is too controlling and doesn’t accept or believe that your subconscious mind knows what it’s doing with something in there worth getting out.

Writer’s block can be a way to avoid digging too deep. Facing your pain – such as anger, hurt, sadness or frustration – can help you discover the truth about yourself and your experiences. Your conscious mind would rather you not go there.

To combat block, realize that writing requires organization skills, time management and discipline, plus drive and motivation. Keep a routine and don’t wait for the muse or some form of inspiration to begin writing. Inspiration can occur as you start writing, losing yourself in the process instead of worrying about the outcome.

To beat writer’s block, there are a few other practices I try:

  • Write daily, or at least a couple of times a week, scheduling a specific time or place to write; i.e. keep office hours. For example, two of my friends and I meet once a week for a write-in, ensuring that we have at least one writing day in our planners.
  • Treat writing like a job and clock in the hours you write, both for accountability and to acknowledge what you’ve accomplished.
  • Stick to a schedule, but allow for risk and freedom and for imagination and play, so that writing remains fun.
  • Write a writing action plan or goals for the year and check in every few weeks to mark your progress.
  • Take a writer’s retreat, even if it’s in your hometown, setting aside a weekend to focus on writing.

While working on a writing project, end you’re writing session mid-chapter or mid-paragraph, or jot down a few notes to start the next chapter to avoid facing the blank page the next time you write.

If there is something that requires research or is a sticking point leave a blank space and return to it later.

Lastly, write from within yourself, tapping into your creative unconscious and staying there. Discover what comes out of your writing as you let loose and experience the wonder of being lost in the process.

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  1. “Lastly, write from within yourself, tapping into your creative unconscious and staying there.” Best advice I’ve heard in a while. Thanks!

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