Sixty Second Writing Tip: four steps to writers’ un-block

It happens. Writers block. The dreaded curse of anyone with a deadline.

Quick tip. If you’re confronted with an empty mind and blinking cursor, try one of these:

1. If you’re just stuck on words alone – can’t extract the perfect phrase – jump to the next sentence or paragraph. Try writing that. Then go back to the sticking point.
2. Still stuck? Go for a walk, do the dishes – take a break. Not too long though. Ten minutes maximum – if you’re in the ‘zone’, you don’t want to break it.
3. Bigger sticking demands bigger guns. Stuck on an idea? Direction? Change medium. If you’re on a computer, grab a pen and paper. Brainstorm. Write down the first things that come to mind.
4. Still stuck? OK, do something completely different. Get out of the ‘zone’ altogether – go watch a movie, have a meal. Then come back to your writing.

Do these work for you? Have you a favourite way of getting yourself out of dreaded ‘writers block’? I’d love to hear from you.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Next: Write It Now, Part 2 – plus Inspirations, kindness, and more. Watch this space.

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22 comments on “Sixty Second Writing Tip: four steps to writers’ un-block

  1. Great tips!

    I often write late at night on my PC so my brain is still buzzing when I go to bed.

    I now take a a notepad to bed and when I have an idea, rather than fester on it until morning wondering if I will remember, I make notes. In fact I carry a notebook with me everywhere now – just in case!

    While the ideas often don’t relate to the story line I’m working on now, they may be just words or descriptive phrases that arrive in my mind unbidden and I can refer to later – when I am looking for a particular or alternative word and descriptive phrases.

    PiP

    • Sounds good. Nothing is ever wasted when it comes to writing – it’s amazing how notes, words, ideas and jotted-down thoughts can feed into each other, later, often without intending to. Good stuff.

  2. manenomatamu says:

    My tip goes along with number 2: I go and make a fresh pot of coffee. :)

  3. Write something different. A poem, a book review, a magazine article, an editorial on the current state of politics. Make the mind shift gears.

    • It’s forcing that gear-shift that does it – and if you can write something else, all the better. I think Isaac Asimov did much the same, I believe he used to have two or three things on the go at once, in different typewriters, and swivel between them as his thoughts moved.

  4. I write more than one story at once. I often bounce between two stories throughout the day. Sometimes I’m actively writing both. Or as I am right now, revising one book of a series and writing on the next one. This works for me and I rarely feel like I’m spinning my wheels, wondering what to do next.

  5. S. Thomas Summers says:

    Sometime, all I need is a change of scenery. Rather than writing at home, I go to the library or a coffee house. Strangely, I seem to be more productive when there’s a bit of hustle and bustle surrounding me.

    S. Thomas Summers
    Author of Private Hercules McGraw: Poems of the American Civil War

    • It’s that change of scenery that’s the trick. I’m interested in your experiences getting energy from the hustle – different writers have very different answers here, I know some find public places distracting, whereas others thrive in them. It’s what works best for them that counts, of course.

    • Imelda Evans says:

      That often works for me, too, S Thomas! Sometimes when I have been too much in my own head, the presence of other people seems to re-energise me – to dive deeper into my own head. Funnily enough bustling spaces often do it for me when I’m creating, but drive me mental when editing. Must be a different part of the brain, I think!

  6. I save “jump lines,” which I scribble in the back of my notebook. They are words or phrases that I think have promise. When I’m feeling like I have “nothing to say,” I will use one of those jump lines as a writing prompt and freewrite for 10 minutes, seeing where my ideas take me. It’s (almost) always fun to see the results.

    • Sounds brilliant – what an excellent technique. And serendipity being what it is, I’m prepared to bet that some good ideas, thoughts and writing flow from what, initially, might have seemed a random idea. Do you find that?

  7. rheinsberg says:

    Thank you for the good ideas. I also use some of them – making a pot of tea often works for me, as well as just starting to write something else, if only the diary.
    But actually I try to find something against my editing block – I am stuck with not one, but two first drafts, both need editing, partial rewriting – and I don’t get the end of the thread to unravel.

  8. naimeless says:

    Reblogged this on Naimeless and commented:
    I’m reblogging this now, but I have so much to say it has to be a whole post…. (Clearly not suffering from writers block.)

  9. M. Hatzel says:

    I was reading one of your recent posts and noticed your copyright inclusion at the bottom right column… tried http://www.matthewright.net to contact you as instructed but the address isn’t working. You may have noticed from the ping-back that I introduced my writer’s group to your blog by introducing this post (have since noted your follow on the blog). My apologies for not contacting you for permission; I didn’t notice your request and assumed that a brief reference to 3rd party work, with reference and accreditation would be okay. Would you like for me to remove it?

  10. […] able to get out whatever it is that’s in our head and onto a page. A while back a read a really great post by MJ Wright about cures for writes block. What was great about the post was the way it […]

  11. […] while back I read a really great post by MJ Wright about cures for writer’s block. What was great about the post was the way it […]

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