IF you take these easy steps you will never use writer’s block as an excuse again!
Writer’s block simply does NOT exist. It is an excuse. It is a figment of your imagination.
Before you start telling me I am WRONG … put yourself in any or all of these situations …
Imagine telling your newspaper editor, you have writers block. Can you hear him yelling? He is threatening to fire you unless you have the article on his desk by 1PM, and he is serious. Are you going to sit there and stare at a blank screen until you get your pink slip, or are you going to write something … it may not be your best work, but it is ON his desk.
Imagine telling your client, you have writers block and the article they are paying $1500 for won’t be done any time soon.
Think you’ll get paid?
Think your EX-client will ever hire you again? Think they won’t be telling others NOT to hire you and why? Will they sing your praises or tell their cohorts that you are a deadbeat?
Imagine your lawyer telling you that you will have to pay a $50,000 fine because he just “couldn’t” write and file the necessary documents. Imagine being that lawyer … writer’s block does not EXIST.
Imagine telling your University Professor that you had writer’s block and simply could NOT do it.
You just TANKED your application to Medical School.
Imagine informing your syndication company (who pays you $5000+ a month) that you just can’t seem to write anything right now. Your ideas have dried up and you have … writer’s block.
You might try suggesting to your agent that they inform the 500 newspapers waiting for your weekly article that you simply can’t write a thing so they’ll have to wait till your muse kicks in before they hear from you again.
How do you think THAT will go over?
Imagine telling your boss you simply can’t come up with anything for the company’s weekly blog post? Hmmmm.
You may not have a boss, client, agent or editor waiting for your work, but it doesn’t matter. If you are working on a novel or your blog, YOU are the boss and using writer’s block as an excuse is just that …
An excuse like writer’s block is a BIG trap.
I find it curious to see how may people actually write about Writer’s Block … which means they DON’T have IT. They whine about it, they tell everyone they know that they’ve got this fatal disease, they join the 10,000 other writers who have the same disease, they create a club and maybe even a movement. Writer’s block is a GREAT EXCUSE for doing nothing.
What’s the trap? The trip is having an excuse, ANY excuse. You could easily say … “the dog ate it,” or “the cat upchucked all over it.”
Why not just be honest?
“I just don’t want to write. If I DID want to … I’d write.”
Because that’s the BOTTOM LINE. If you really want to … you WILL WRITE.
Read Stephen Kings book, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft. He writes 2000 words a day and does not quit until they are done. Do you think that he has accidentally been blessed with writing brilliance on a daily basis? Do you think he does not have bad days where every word that he squeeks out is painful?
“Only under dire circumstances do I allow myself to shut down before I get my 2,000 words.“~Stephen King
By giving your excuse an elegant name … Writer’s Block you are legitimizing the fact that you are lying (you don’t have a dog or a cat), or that you are feeling lazy. OR you want someone else to feel freaking SORRY for you.
OK here goes:
“You poor poor thing. Writer’s block is so terrible, why don’t you eat a dozen donuts and you’ll feel better.”
Go ahead and tell me I’m wrong. I’ve got a thick skin. I’ve heard ALL the excuses.
When you are about to tell me you just can’t do it, that you are stuck, think about this guy.
He was locked in a wheel chair for over five decades
He couldn’t physically write or type.
He could hardly speak.
He needed help with the simplest of things.
In spite of that, he wrote countless scientific articles, essays and FIFTEEN books … one of which sold over 10 million copies.
His thinking and writing has changed the world.
He gave NO excuses and in spite of all the REALLY GOOD, and TOTALLY LEGITIMATE reasons NOT to do it … he found a way to write.
Think about STEPHEN HAWKINS
whenever you consider saying the words “writer’s block.”
It is all right to make mistakes; nothing is perfect because with perfection, we would not exist.
Here’s the reality and what to do about it.
You are in the middle of your novel and all of a sudden … you are STUCK.
OH … OK you are stuck. That is NOT writer’s block.
If you are stuck, just jump over the sticky section and start a new sentence, paragraph or chapter. Make up a new character and write his back story. Just keep on going. Your editor may have some ideas, or YOU may have some ideas on how to resolve STUCK later.
If you are writing an article and get bogged down (NOT writer’s block), just stop. Skip to your next article or to the next section. You don’t have to write one article until it is finished. I normally have five to ten on the go. Some are just fat ideas, others require research, or that’s my excuse and yet others are honestly bogged down waiting for a fresh idea. If I put it on the back burner the problems usually solve themselves in a few days or weeks. In the mean time I am still writing.
If you stubbornly insist that this paragraph has to be written now, and you are blocked … you already know I’m going to say …
it’s not writer’s block it is stubbornness.
I’m going to give you an assignment right now. When you are done, throw it away, or post it on your blog or on Medium.com. Just do it. You might actually enjoy it … or not! The thing is as a freelancer you often have to write about things you aren’t really passionate about. As a novelist you might have to research and write about stuff you don’t really care about.
Here’s your assignment …
The Lowly Pencil
That’s enough to give anyone writer’s block. So do this. Fire up Google and search for “history of pencils.”
WHAT! Who would have figured there would be over 87 MILLION pieces of information on pencils.
Read five articles about pencils and start writing.
Still blocked? I give you my permission to plagiarize. Go ahead and copy the first sentence out of the five articles you read. Now UN plagiarize it all. Make it your own. Change what’s there. Change the words, restructure the sentences. Add your own comments and experiences. Make it look like an article.
And if all else fails, write a sad story about how you have writer’s block and simply can’t write anything. Hmmm …
Where’s the writer’s block now?
Here are a few more ways to …
Never Have To Say Writer’s Block:
Feeling stuck? Staring at a blank page?
Look at a photo and use the photo to get started.
Here’s how …
1. Take ANY image or photo:
Describe the image.
Are there any background noises in the photo?
What about smell? And taste?
What is outside the photo?
When was the photo taken?
Who took the photo and why?
How does the photo make you feel?
Does the image have a back story?
Now take your description and plunk it into your story, or create an article using some or all of it.
2. Open up a newspaper and put one of the headlines into your character’s mouth.
3. Phone a friend and read him/her your last three sentences. Ask for the next sentence … tell your friend it does NOT have to be good or even make sense. Use that sentence to start your next paragraph. You can delete it when you are in your next draft.
4. Just go ahead and write something gosh awful. Make sure your writing is downright terrible. Grammatical mistakes are good, so are typos. Try hard to write the worst freaking page you have ever written. Then go ahead and write some more drivel. Just write total drivel for a few minutes or an hour … it will eventually start to make sense and it will eventually turn into “something” you might call a sentence or a paragraph.
Here’s a great article on how to write something awful!
5. Read an article on Medium.com. Clap for it … then COMMENT on it. In your novel write a scene about writing the comment. OR start an article based on your comment.
6. Just stop struggling. Open up a new document or page and start a new scene, a new article, a new chapter. Don’t struggle with the piece you are stuck on … just move on. Once your brain is back in gear, go back and try again. Still stuck … leave it for a few days or a week OR (oh my God) chop out the stuck part and throw it in the trash.
Guess what? YOU are in charge. You get to say what’s in your article or your novel. If you are freelancing, just don’t tell your client about the paragraph you left out!
7. Do some research. About something you are interested in … maybe on the best way to cook carrots (there IS a secret). OR research something for your novel … the era, a tool, some piece of clothing, a poison. Then write a page about what you found out in your research.
A real example. I was hired to write three scripts in a series about PVC (plastic) water and sewage pipes. Talk about boring. My eyes crossed and I was about to use writer’s block as an excuse to put it off. Instead I went to the library. I started with encyclopedias and the history of sewage. Almost immediately I was snagged. It was interesting, and fascinating. Did you know some of the sewers built by the Romans are still being used today? The logistics of it all was downright amazing. Then I found a book about the history of toilets. OMG it was so funny I almost peed myself. It ended up taking me four days to write three scripts AND one of my sewer programs won an award.
Hmmm … I should write an article about it. “How I made $6000 writing about Poo.”
8. Create a master list of article ideas.
Every single time you have an idea, record it. Reading a book and an idea for YOUR novel pops up … write the idea down, give it a descriptive title. Keep on adding to your list. Go through your list from time to time and if inspired, add a bit more to an article idea. Do this when you are feeling creative and productive.
Then, when you even start thinking about the word “block” … scroll through your list of ideas, pick one and write 100 words on that idea. Go onto the next, write another 100 words about another idea. At the end of your work session, you might have five ideas, each with a bit more content, OR one of the articles just took off and it is now done!
I have over 300 ideas in one of my Scrivener files. THIS article was one of them.
9. “OH,” you say. “I am writing a N O V E L so how does an idea file apply to ME?
You may think this is weird, but when you thought about writing your novel, you probably had some ideas about characters, scenes, plot. You overhear something when standing in a Starbucks lineup? Write it down. Shopping at Walmart and all of a sudden see a Walmartian? Write the description down, take a photo if you dare. See a signpost with a weird street name? (Did you know there is a town in Canada named Dildo? Hmmmmm) Write it down. Create an idea file with characters, quotes, names, plot ideas (doesn’t have to be your current book) and images that hit you in the face. When you get stuck … scroll though your idea file and pick something, doesn’t matter what. Write 100 words of content. Re-read it and flesh it out a bit. Plunk it into chapter 23.
10. Create a game of WRITER’S TAG with a friend or another author on Facebook messenger or in a slack channel or if you are under 25 do it by texting!
Since YOU are blocked, I am going to give you (FREE) the first line.
It was a dark and stormy night.
Your friend (or friends) has to write the next sentence. Once they write their sentence it is your turn.
Keep it up until you are laughing so hard you may be in need of a “Depends.”
Here’s another starter line:
I was laughing so hard I was in desperate need of a Depends.
Take your little story, plunk it in the middle of your work and keep on going. (You can get rid of it in your second draft).
When I set out to write this article … I had NO illusions of fabulous, all I wanted to do was tell it the way I see it … NO such thing as writer’s block. When I finished venting, I gave some examples about how to get fired or kicked out of school. Then I wrote some more. It’s an article, what can I say … in spite of the fact that it’s not perfect, I am going to hit publish.
Love to hear some really cute and creative “Dog’s breakfast” excuses.
Love to hear YOUR solution to being in a state of writing vs making up more excuses that some people call writer’s block.