A guest blog post by Thomas Frick
There have been a couple of blog posts I’ve seen here about writer’s block, so I wanted to take a stab at it, in no small part because I’ve been facing some pretty intense writer’s block preparing for this article. Here’s a list of some of the things I do to get through writer’s block.
- Get alone. If you have a roommate, one of the most distracting things in the world may be feeling like they want to talk to you while you need to work. The solution? Get away! Finding a place to work undisturbed is vital to getting writing done. Sure, we have endless ways to distract ourselves while writing, but it’s so much easier to tell yourself to shut up and stop getting in the way than it is to tell a friend to shut up.
- Start early in the morning. This might be more contested among the night owls out there, but I find the easiest time to force myself to write is in the early hours of the day, when almost no one is awake. Being able to visit public spaces that feel empty is amazing for the imagination. Writing for me always feels a bit like an adventure into the unknown: I may know my destination or my route, but never both. Seeing emptiness gets me excited to go explore the depths of my thoughts.
- Throw out formality. Sometimes, the hardest point for me is when I have an idea of what I want to write about, but I can’t find the right words to put on the screen (or my paper). Often, I realize I’m trying to craft the perfect sentence in my head, so I never have to come back and edit my paper. That’s dumb. If I have the idea in my head, it’s more important to communicate it than to craft prose to make God weep. Sometimes, this means abandoning writing altogether and making an outline.
- Put on some instrumental music. This is, perhaps, the most dangerous part of my techniques to try to work through writer’s block. I normally will put on classical music, which is dramatic enough to be incredibly distracting. The point of putting on music is not to listen to the music – it’s to create a white noise to drown out the sound of both nothing and of others talking around each other. If the music you’ve picked is distracting you, then it’s not helpful and you should turn it off. In this way, playing music can be dangerous to working through writer’s block. This tip is for when time marches inevitably onwards, and you’ve lost those beautiful early morning hours where you can work in peace and solitude to the crowds of the general public.
- Explain your writing to someone else. In the event that you are still stuck, find a trusted friend and talk to them about what you’re trying to write. You can explain to them the prompt, your ideas, your lack of ideas, why you’re getting stuck, fears you may have about the writing, and much more. Please note that this is unlikely to directly result in words hitting a page. Instead, this is meant to help you attack a piece of writing from different angles. I find that this is my least favored solution, because I’m often too proud to admit to being stuck on writing. However, when I do take it, I find myself with more ideas than I can write down. I just need to be careful to write something
One last thing: when you hit the end of a piece, always take some time to reflect on what you’ve written. Have you communicated your points well? Developed a character? Moved the plot forward? Discovered something about yourself? Writing doesn’t need to just satisfy some requirement: giving information on an article, fulfilling a school assignment, or finishing a research paper. Writing can and should always be also a process of self-discovery. Have fun with your writing and discover something new about yourself.