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Writers Block? Get in the Right State of Mind to Write


If you are struggling with writers block, you may think there is no hope for getting over your hurdle. But, the fact is most writers struggle with writer's block at some point in their careers. The important thing is to not beat yourself up about it; try instead some simple ideas for getting in the right frame of mind to write:

Minimize Distractions

If you have writer's block, you have difficulty focusing. So, try to minimize any distractions that could disrupt your concentration:

  • Log off your email account, sign out of IM and Skype.
  • Close the door to your workspace if possible.
  • Close the blinds so you cannot daydream while looking outside.
  • Wear headphones and listen to white noise to blot out distractions, or listen to your favorite music.
  • Create an environment that is conducive to quiet and privacy.

Talk It Out

Whatever you are trying to say, try saying it out loud:

  • Just sit there and monologue if you need to.
  • Or, if you prefer, try bouncing your ideas off someone else. (It goes without saying, but select someone helpful and supportive if you go this route.)
  • Sometimes saying it out loud, or talking things over with a trusted friend, can help you get past the mental block to writing.

Work on One Part

If you are stuck in a certain area, try working on another part of your project:

  • Mull over your title.
  • Compile your acknowledgements.
  • Write your preface.
  • Work on your bibliography.
  • Do anything that relates to your project. That way you still move forward, working in other areas even if you are stymied in another area.

Writing Exercises

There are dozens of writing exercises out there that can help you get writing. Here are a few to try:

  • If there is a certain point you are trying to make, jot down a few keywords about it. Then try to write just to those keywords.
  • Use prompts. There are entire websites devoted to writing prompts; you can even sign up with a few and have a new prompt delivered to your email daily.
  • Try chunking, which means organizing your thoughts into a bulleted list. Chunking can help you get to the heart of your story without worrying about narrative flow.
  • Set a timer and write anything that comes to mind for 15 minutes.
  • Any writing exercise that helps you put pen to paper--or fingers to keys--is helpful in getting the creative juices flowing.

Give Yourself a Break

If absolutely nothing is happening, give your mind a brief vacation. Sometimes just getting away from your desk and removing the pressure to write something immediately can help you get in the right frame of mind:

  • Go to your local park and take a long walk.
  • Go kite flying with your kids.
  • Paint or doodle with your kids. Make a big mess!
  • Read a book--sometimes just reading other's words provides inspiration.
  • Spend time on your favorite hobby--try knitting, baking, or scrapbooking.

The worst thing you can do when faced with writer's block is panic. Use these tips to keep calm, and get in the right frame of mind to write. You'll be back on track and writing again soon!

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.

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