What To Do When you Have Writer’s Block


What to do when you have Writer's BlockSometimes when you have writing to do, you will sit down, open the computer, and… nothing happens.

If you are lucky, a few sentences will present themselves and you will dutifully type them. Likely, they will make no sense and be full of grammatical errors. You will sit there, wondering if you have managed to make it all the way up to a third grade writing level and why you ever thought that you might be able to make a career (or even a pastime) as a writer.

If you are not lucky, the screen (and your mind) will remain mockingly blank.

It is actually physically painful to sit there, trying to ignore the fact that you suck at your chosen career, and the fact that you have left dirty dishes all over the counter, and the fact that the dirty laundry pile at the top of the stairs is a couple of pairs of jeans and a sweatshirt away from being able to put in an application to become one of the Adirondack High Peaks… and watching your precious Writing Minutes slide away.

You have Writer’s Block. And there isn’t anything you can do about it.

Or is there?

No, going on Facebook and looking at pictures of kittens is NOT a cure for Writer’s Block. I have, however, come up with some Strategies and Tips that might be helpful.

1.)     Make a cup of tea. Good ideas frequently float around the kitchen—especially when you’re making dinner and can’t stop to do anything about them. It is quite possible that those ideas won’t notice that you are not actually cooking and you can grab one and start writing.

If that fails, sometimes having a cup of something warm in your hands, or watching the tendrils of cream swirl lazily through your tea, can knock an idea lose.

And if that fails, at least you have a cup tea and everything is better with tea.

2.)     Have some whiskey. Or whisky. I tend to prefer whisky (from Scotland, such as Old Pultney) for drinking and whiskey (from Ireland, such as Powers) for writing while drinking, but both are good options. This is because both Ireland and Scotland tend to be fairly poetic countries, and you are quite likely to find a good idea or two floating near the bottom of a whiskey bottle. And, as we know, there have been quite a few Great Writers who were alcoholics. However, many of them also came to a Bad End (Hemingway and his shotgun leap immediately to mind), so I would urge Great Caution, if you select this method of dealing with Writer’s Block.

Another consideration… this is not a method to be used if you have yet to pick up the kids from school. The other parents will know you have been drinking, but they will not see a Creative Genius at work, and they will conclude that you are a Bad Parent.

And always, always remember: Write drunk, edit sober.

Writer's Block3.)     Abandon the computer for a notebook. Grab a pen and start scribbling. If that doesn’t work, try switching up pens… or try a pencil. Or a glitter pen. It is almost impossible not to feel creative in the presence of a glitter pen. But be warned. This method can also make you feel like a middle school student, so you must resist the urge to suddenly stop talking to your best friend for no reason at all (in other words, because one of the “cool” kids said to) or to spend time writing the name of your eighth grade crush in the margins. (You can turn the tail of the “y” in “Jeremy” into a little heart. Just sayin’.)

On the positive side, this method will get you away from the computer and it will be SO much easier to resist the pull of Facebook and those damn kitten pictures.

4.)     Pet the dog.

5.)     Stretch.

What to do when you have Writer's Block6.)      Try to think up a name for the goldfish you don’t have and don’t actually want.

7.)     Check Facebook. But NO pictures of kittens. Well, maybe just one… or two. But no more than three. Got it?

8.)     Resist the urge to get up and do the dishes. Or the laundry. It’s a TRAP! Don’t do it. You will not feel relief in having accomplished something. You feel like a Failed Writer with a Clean Counter, which actually waaaay worse than feeling like a Writer Who is Currently Suffering From Writer’s Block.

9.)     Change topics. Put the pen (glitter or otherwise) on the paper and move it until words come out. You might, for example, wind up with a lovely little piece entitled “What to do When you Have Writer’s Block.”

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2 Responses to What To Do When you Have Writer’s Block

  1. tom briggs says:

    I am a big fan. You are a very talented and intelligent writer. I also like your style. It flows nicely. Unfortunately creativity is a mystery. It ebbs and flows and can’t be forced. It is not unlike a painter or musician’s dilemma. You just keep searching and listening and then it happens. Good luck. I enjoyed your piece.

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