Getting Unstuck

By Gloria Reichert

Writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all. ~ Charles Rutkowski

Every writer has been there. You sit down to write – and not one idea pops into your head. Your creative juices are not flowing. Your brain has turned to mush. You cannot focus. Your muse has deserted you. Writer’s block has you in its grips. What is a writer to do?

All writers need to have an arsenal of ways to overcome writer’s block, so perhaps the following may prove helpful. 

1.  Writing prompts are a splendid way to fight writer’s block and spur creative thinking. Easily found in books or on line, writing prompts can take on a life of their own and become a new piece or poem. An added bonus is that while you are doing them, you are honing your writing skills. Prompts can be as simple as writing from the viewpoint of an inanimate object, such as a tennis shoe, a baseball bat, or a glue stick. Or they can be more complex and lead to character sketches.    

2.  Change your location. If you are at the computer, get up and go outside. Go to a park, a coffee shop, or other venue.

3.  Exercise or move around. Do some jumping jacks or your favorite workout routine. Put on some music and dance. Getting the blood flowing in our bodies also gets it flowing in our brains.

4.  Try a new writing instrument. If you are using the computer, pick up a pad of paper and a pen or pencil. Write in your favorite color of ink.

5.  Read inspirational quotes about writing.

6.  Make a Word Web. Write a word in the center of a sheet of paper (perhaps one from the piece you are writing.) and draw a circle around it. Brainstorm about the word and add lines upon which to write your thoughts. Don’t stop after the first few thoughts. Press on and keep thinking. Our best, creative thoughts come later on. 

7.  Look at pictures. Get out your family album. Peruse a magazine from cover to cover. Or sketch a picture and then write about it – even if it is only stick figures.

8.  Keep a collection of strange, meaningful, interesting news clippings that can be pulled out for inspiration – like the one I read about a rubber band contest.

9.  Develop a “writer’s morphological matrix” and use it as a tool for generating ideas. Draw a grid that is four blocks wide and ten blocks long. Label the top four blocks: CHARACTER, SETTING, GOALS, AND OBSTACLES. Number the ten vertical blocks 1 through 10, top to bottom. Fill in ten characters, ten settings, etc. This will provide many possible combinations of ideas about which to write.

10.  Keep a journal of funny things people say or humorous incidents. I remember once baking potatoes and seasoning them with herbes de provence. When they were served to a young child, she looked at the potatoes. Then she looked at me and said, “Why did you put grass on my potatoes?” That could be fleshed into an interesting story!

What are other ways of banishing writer’s block? What has worked for you? Please share your comments. We all need help sometimes! Happy writing!     

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