Back in the day, I used to think there was no such thing as writer’s block, but now I know better. Although there are degrees to writer’s block, it is real, insidious, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And it hurts.
It arrives unannounced, when we least expect and for no apparent reason, maybe years after a long-forgotten incident—the snarky remarks or the faint praise or the disregard of others. We read a great post and wonder why we can’t create like that: guess who’s coming to dinner. Slowly our word count withers. Storyline flees. Days, months go by without writing a line. Instead, we take up the piano or dust.
Truth is, self-doubt never disappears and there are times—without knowing it—when we turn away from what we love. Here are sixteen ways that might help unstopper the words.
- Take a twenty-minute nap. Come back to the chair and write.
- Talk to a friend about not writing.
- Sit in the chair and say From God’s lips to my keyboard ten times.
- Take a warm bath or swim some place where you could float forever. Instead, come back to the chair and write.
- Count the stars. Write a sentence or two about their shining. That’s maybe thirty, fifty words—a start.
- Remember the times your writing has moved others.
- Remember the times your ability with words has surprised you.
- Remember the times you carved your words into exciting angles, created fleshy characters.
- Take a long walk or a swim. Come back to the chair and write.
- Write in cursive. Don’t think of what you’re writing, just move the pen.
- In the first draft of a scene, forget punctuation just let the words flow from your hand to the page. Turn off spellcheck.
- Write down all the words you can think of beginning with A; then, B, etc.
- Talk to your characters in the shower. Listen when they talk back to you. Write down the conversation.
- Rewrite the news in your character’s voice.
- Read poetry or go to a gallery or to a concert. Take your journal and write about it.
- Stare at a photograph or a painting. Listen to the story. Write it down.
The sixteen ways boil down to one way: let yourself write. Sit at the keyboard and struggle down old ghosts until you feel once more the power your gift gives you, a lemon balm.
Photo: The Madonie in January. Credit: Antonio Llardo (Flickr), Creative Commons.