Five ways to avoid writing blank

It happens to every writer, sooner or later; you sit down to compose and – nothing. It’s often called ‘writers block’. Often it happens when you’re brimming with ideas – but the words just don’t flow.

1197094932257185876johnny_automatic_books_svg_medThe reason is because we think of things as concepts, without words – shapes and patterns. They are usually simultaneous. Whereas writing is a linear exercise, and words are limiting and imperfect vehicles for conveying concept. Hence the stall.

I’ve got a few ways around it:

1. Stuck on the first words – no problem. Start writing in the middle. You can always backfill. Word processors are wonderful inventions. Remember, a bad first draft is better than no first draft.

2. Take a ten minute break – do something mindless like a quick blat on some computer game, or the housework (extra tip: the blat game is more fun, but in my household, the housework earns more brownie points with She Who Must Be Obeyed).

3. Go for a walk – no more than 20 minutes. Think about the problem along the way. But also let your mind wander.

4. If you’re still stuck, take a total break – some hours, even come back tomorrow.

5. Finally – brute force. Sometimes deadlines press. Get a piece of paper and write down any ideas you have. Look for patterns. Get a structure – and try Tip 1.

Do any of these work for you?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013


3 thoughts on “Five ways to avoid writing blank

  1. Breaks really help me plow through. I think many writers struggle with guilt when we break away, but it’s almost always worth it! Unless it turns into a form of procrastination, of course. Great tips!

    1. Thanks. Yes, it’s amazing how much extra productivity comes from the pauses. Kind of counter intuitive. But it works. Another layer in the complexity of the human condition.

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