Writer’s Block

We’ve all experienced it. Sitting at a desk or computer table while a blank piece of paper and blank screen stares back at us and dares us to write anything, even a sentence — just something.

This is the crippling disease known as writer’s block.

What to do?

I’ve been writing long enough that I usually don’t get writer’s block, which of course is of no consolation to you, but I do get something called “writer’s laziness,” especially when I’m doing technical writing. Writer’s laziness kicks in when you find yourself basically regurgitating the stuff you’ve just devoured for research. It may not be word for word, but, man oh man, the tone and turgidness ring authentic to the original!

That’s another disease that I’ll deal with at another time, but for now let me propose a list of cures for writer’s block, beginning with the least recommended first and then moving on to the most recommended:

  • Go have a stiff drink or two. This will loosen you up, but it almost might twist your writing and take it to places you don’t want to go. It might distort, or it might just work fine. It’s up to you to figure out by experimentation (if you so choose).
  • Take a break and go for a brisk walk. This will actually get the hormones and juices flowing again and should help you overcome the blockage, but remember, go straight back to the writing when done.  Don’t dawdle in the kitchen for a snack or plop down in front of the boob tube.
  • Start writing in the middle or end; that is, just write whatever comfortably comes to you even if it’s not the beginning and even if it doesn’t even make that much sense yet. Just getting the writing process started will jar you out of the blockage.
  • Give up. This is basically the best solution. Now, by “give up,” I don’t literally mean just walk away and forget about it. What I mean is to give up thinking you have to write the perfect paper. Just lower your standards to the point where the words flow. This is akin to turning off the inner critic.

Remember these immortal words, which I’m going to have to paraphrase since I can’t find the original author or quotation: “There’s nothing you can’t write so long as you lower your standards low enough.”

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