Friday, July 3, 2009

Hitting the Wall: Remedies for Writers Block

To tell the truth, this hasn’t happened to me in so long I’ve forgotten that I’m just as susceptible to writer’s block as anyone else. In fact, I didn’t even notice that I had come to a complete standstill — writing-wise — until someone asked me if I had “retired.” Well, in truth, writer’s block is like retirement, only with guilt. Lots of guilt, especially when this is how you earn your living. What to do? Here are some things I have tried and will now pass along to you, just in case you ever need them.

  1. Clean up your office, top to bottom. File or pitch every piece of paper. Use Windex or Mr. Clean or Pledge on all surfaces. Vacuum or sweep or wash and wax the floor. Wash your keyboard. OK. Your universe is clean. Now, you can get to work.

  1. No, not yet? The next trick is to remove distractions, which include all the things you have to do that are keeping you from doing what your really have to do, which is write. If it’s paying bills, pay them. If it’s laundry, do it all. If it’s calling your mother or designing a flyer or checking every piece of e-mail, get it all out of the way. After all, who can work with a mind that looks like a messy to-do list?

  1. Still not ready? Acknowledge it, accept it, forget it. Unplug the computer. Take at least 24 hours off. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Take a nap. Take a bath. Meditate. Go to a movie. Read a trashy novel. Call your best friend. Work out. Go dancing. Eat ice cream or whatever you consider really sinful. But do not think about work.

  1. Refreshed and ready to go yet? No? Enough of this nonsense. It’s time to get tough with yourself. This isn't a game, my friend; this is what you do. You’re a pro. You don’t wait for inspiration; you do what has to be done, when it has to be done. So, as the saying goes, just do it. Put on your most comfortable writing clothes; fix yourself a cup of coffee; turn off the phone; flex your fingers; and put them on the keys.

  1. Now, write.


Catherine Franz said...


I like to think of this time period as a mind vacation break. the way I see it is, writer's push the limit, say they jump from the mainland to the island in one big jump. When this happens, the mind needs to return to build the bridge from the island back to the mainland.

Another way would be to think about every writing exercise as jumping over a pot hole. When the execise is done our mind needs to fill in the pot hole so it can then jump over another.

It's time to fill in the space in order to get ready for the next leap.

1Purpose said...

Bobbi, love your post. Will keep that in mind the next time the "block" hits me.