At some point in your writing career, you will need suggestions for overcoming writers block. We have all faced that blank page, struggling with forming anything coherent. It's an occupational hazard. But, it doesn't have to be the end of the world. Here are some writing exercises that will help get those freelance ideas flowing again:
It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to make sense. It doesn't even have to be a sentence. Don't judge it, just write it. This is called freeform writing, scribbling down anything that comes to your mind. Freeform writing gets you moving because you are no longer stymied by making instant perfection. Sometimes the simple physical act of moving your hands across the keyboard, or writing words in ink across a page, will get that momentum going again.
Begin at Any Part
You don't have to write in chronological order; in fact, some writers simply cannot start with the beginning. Pick up your writing wherever you want--write the end first or work on the middle. Sometimes the beginning only makes sense if you have written the end.
Say It in Five Words
This writing exercise forces you to focus. It makes you get to the heart of the situation, without beating around the bush. What exactly are you trying to say? Write it down, but say it in five words. Once you have done that, you will be able to go back and elaborate, but putting your idea succinctly forces you to concentrate.
Change Formats or Settings
If you are used to writing at a computer, turn it off and write longhand on a piece of paper. Or, if you are used to scribbling longhand, change to a word processing program. Sometimes this abrupt change of format will help you focus and get the words flowing again. If you are used to working at a desk, go outside. Try moving to your public library or a coffeehouse. Many times, a change of scenery can help too.
Make a List
If you can't think of the words in a narrative format, try listing or "chunking," which means writing the information down in a bulleted list format. This exercise helps you get the major points of your writing down on paper without worrying about the narrative flow.
Just Finish It
Set a goal for getting a certain part of your work written. Then do it--set a timer if the pressure of a time crunch helps you. Accept that it will probably need revision; accept that it won't be perfect. By forcing yourself to focus on accomplishing a specific goal within a specific time frame, you can often overcome that mental block to getting started.
Writer's block is a mental block that can be caused by many factors: stress, fatigue, anxiety, perfectionism, procrastination and fear of failure. But, by arming yourself in advance with simple writing exercises, you can deal with writer's block, and get back into the groove of writing in no time.______________________________
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.