Do you, like me, ever suffer from writers block? You know, those periods when you gaze, for what seems like hours, at a blank piece of paper or a blank, opened Word file on your computer screen. No matter how hard you try you can’t think of a thing to write and the more you try, the more hopeless it becomes. Yes, this is what’s affectionately known as Writer’s Block.
There has been much advice written on techniques and strategies to overcome this fearful condition and in some cases the causes.
In the Writer’s Block article on Wikipedia, it is suggested that, “the condition ranges from difficulty in coming up with original ideas to more extreme examples in which some “blocked” writers have been unable to work for years, and some have even abandoned their supposed lifelong careers.” It also goes on to state that the condition has affected, amongst others, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charles M. Shultz.
In Charlie Jane Ander’s online article, she identifies ten types of writer’s block and suggests strategies to overcome them. The types of block identified include, “You can’t come up with an idea”, “You can’t think of the right words for what you’re trying to convey in this one paragraph” and “You’re stuck in the middle and have no idea what happens next”. I’ve certainly been afflicted with these at one time or another.
In her online article, Emily Temple identifies 13 authors who give their tips for overcoming writers block. Authors giving advice include Maya Angelou, Ray Bradbury, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain and John Steinbeck and it seems to me that if writers of this stature have to have strategies for overcoming writer’s block, then we are all in good company.
If you Google “Writer’s Block” you will get over 8 million articles, so I guess there will be some solutions available amongst these which match your problems exactly. My three personal tips are:
I find song titles can be a source of inspiration, so I often look through my iTunes folders and look at some of the 7,000+ songs I have. For example, what inspiration could I get from, “Flashback”, “Keep It To Yourself”, “Standing In The Shadow Of Love”, “She’s Leaving Home”, “Foolin’ Myself”, “The Modern Things”, “Paranoid”, “Black Heart”. It would be quite easy to do the same with book or film titles.
Brainstorm (or should I be politically correct and call it “thought shower”) – start with your blank piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle of it. Now write a word in the middle – any word will do. Then draw links to other thoughts emanating from those words, and so on. When you have exhausted your imagination or filled the page, start looking for connections amongst the words. The idea is illustrated below:
So could you base a story on receiving a speeding ticket in Monaco and then finding out that the car you thought was yours was a stolen car?
Get out and observe – go out to the pub/a café/ the library/ the supermarket/ the park/ etc. and listen and look. It helps to take notes on what you observe, which may then inspire you.
So what are your tips for overcoming writers block? Please share your experiences with us.