We’ve all been there. Staring at a blank Word document or a blank piece of paper. Willing the creative ideas to pour forth onto blank slate. And yet, nothing. What’s commonly referred to as writer’s block can be a real pain. But writer’s block is completely natural and common, among writers – and even Stephen King suffered from it while writing The Green Mile. Most instances only last a few hours to a few days; the longest bout of writer’s block happened to Henry Roth, who couldn’t write for 60 years!
Luckily, there are ways to get past the dreaded writer’s block. I’ve found these strategies to work best for me. What kind of strategies do you use? Feel free to comment so that all of us creative types can learn from each other and hopefully ease some of the pain!
1. Take a walk. This is an old one, but it works for me. When I take a walk, I’m concentrating on the feel of the pavement or gravel under my shoes; the smells, sights and sounds; keeping my dog from walking in the middle of the road. All of these things seem to let my subconscious do its “thang” and by the time I come home, I’m in a better place to let the ideas flow.
2. Write about anything, including the kitchen sink. This can be hard for some people to do because it can be seen as a waste of time, but I say, you’re not writing anyway so what’s being wasted? Writing about my dog, childhood memories, writing a description of items in my house – all of these things help spur my brain into at least getting into the writing mode, which is probably what spurs on ideas once I get going. Writing about a bottle of water with mountains on it led me to write a great blog about a trip to Denver to see my sister. I wasn’t even thinking about her before that bottle!
3. Read news sites and blogs. Often local news or reading other people’s thoughts get my own thoughts going. Our brains are wired for some weird associations, so you never know what’s going to come up. You don’t have to read about your specific topic to come up with an idea for it. Our brains are powerful and will work on the idea while we’re reading about something else entirely.
4. Make an outline. Whether it’s a barebones outline or a totally fleshed out outline, any kind of semblance to the piece you want to write will help you come up with ideas. An outline can show you where the gaps are in your piece, and your brain will work hard to fill in the missing pieces.
5. Put on some music. Music lights up parts of your brain associated with creativity. Instead of taking a walk, if I put on some music and start dancing, not only do I get the physical benefit, I wake up my groovin’ brain. Classical music can help babies and toddlers learn, so I don’t see why disco and hip hop can’t make adults grow new ideas!