Content | Business | Design

How to cure Writer’s block, and other forms of stasis

In Personal Development on May 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Writing is a process.

You are probably thinking: Gee, how many times have I heard that one? We all know it’s true: writing is a process. It’s a nice laconic phrase that doesn’t disclose any obvious wisdom which can create a costly experience for the thinker—especially when writer’s block kicks in. We get jammed up over this saying because it summons the power of observation, not inspection. I have been stuck before, either staring at a blank piece of paper or blinking cursor in a text field, with no end in sight—everyone has. Delusion will only lead to more empty pages and rainy days. Here are three strategies I use to make this aphorism work for me and jump-start my mojo:

The binge and purge approach. This method is the most-straightforward and cures most common symptoms of writer’s block, like over-thinking or conception. Remember: writing is a process. So get cracking. Sometimes getting the words down is more important than the quality of the words themselves. Then revise, revise, revise. Don’t get hung up on a single detail, peer too far into where the story is going, or stop to research syntax while writing. You can revisit all of this later.

The mindcasting approach. This strategy begins with physically mapping out your thoughts, and has proven to be especially useful in developing content for non-print mediums, like blogs or presentations. First, select writing materials that suit your groove. The traditional pen and paper is sufficient, but sometimes I enjoy using construction paper and a colored Sharpie. It’s good to shake things up. Start by thinking about what has captured your interest lately or recent events and experiences. I recommend only choosing one or two things. Once you’ve decided, write it down wherever you want on the page and put individual bubbles around them. The key here is to break your thoughts down into simple structures, so exercise brevity. Begin branching out, using each original idea as a locus, in your mindcasting session. Circle the new thoughts and connect them to the previous bubble. Soon you’ll have a visual network of ideas to flesh out, with built in relationships and contexts.

The fragment approach. Shares concepts with the mindcasting approach. A quotation from H.G. Wells inspired this strategy: “I write as straight as I can, just as I walk as straight as I can, because that is the best way to get there.” Write in short bursts, only focusing on the words. Disregard grammar and sentence structure. Fill in the blanks. Connect the dots. And don’t forget the tittles and other diacritical marks to complete your writing.

If you try any of these approaches, come back and tell us about your experience. I hope these methods help you break the occasional spellbound funk or cure your writer’s block altogether. What methods do you use in a bind?

  1. […] recently explored strategies to combat writer’s block, a form of stasis that addresses overcoming the blank slate. I hope those tips nailed a cease and […]

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