Just within the past couple of months, several folks have confided in me about "writer's block", and how they wished they could get rid of it.
In thinking about this problem, which plagues all writers, whether they care to admit it or not, I decided to make a few suggestions to help you get rid of this rather unpleasant problem once and for all.
But, there's a catch.
Isn't there always?
The catch is that you must read these suggestions and then do them.
Even if you don't feel like it.
(Which is one of the reasons we get writer's block...)
So, let's begin.
STEP 1: Start thinking.
I mean really thinking. Every day, when you are doing your favorite activity, whether it's walking the dog, swimming, hiking, running, cycling, sitting outdoors, beaching--you get the picture (You need to be active? Yes!), take time to just think.
About nothing in particular.
You see, writing and thinking are intertwined. If your mind is clogged, the clog will show up in your writing. You may not see where the clog is, but a clog is a clog. Many famous writers over the years have said this. I'm just repeating what they have already said.
Now, don't skip this step. Because it's really important.
If you say you don't have time, then that's one of the reasons you are experiencing writer's block. Because if you want to write, you have to think, and if you want to think, you have to make the time.
For 10 minutes a day. That's all you really need.
Now, after you have spent your 10 minutes thinking, come indoors (yes, you should do your thinking outside unless it's 10 degrees outdoors), write down any new ideas that may have popped in your head. Don't write down any of the garbage. Only the new ideas. Do this every day until new ideas start popping in your head!
Keep doing this even if it takes 30 days. But, I don't think that it will.
Now, if you get too many ideas popping in your head, try to remember the three most important ones. (Just last week I filled two entire notebook pages after a 15-minute walk with my pooch.)
STEP 2: Start talking to yourself.
Yep, when you're cleaning the house, driving to work, or taking a shower, talk aloud. Talk like no one is listening (i.e. make sure no one is in earshot). Talk about things that are on your mind, problems, concerns, rants, complaints. (This is the one time you are allowed to complain.)
Get rid of all the negative garbage that's been holding you back.
This goes back to what I said in Step 1. When your mind is clogged, your thinking gets clogged, and when your thinking is clogged, your writing is clogged.
STEP 3: Write for 10 minutes a day.
Make this 10-minute writing session a part of your daily schedule.
Even if you don't feel like it.
To do this exercise, get a notepad and paper (NOT a computer or a pad) and set a timer for 5 minutes. (Whoa, whoa, whoa...you may be saying. Write with a pen and paper? How antiquarian! Don't complain. Just write.)
During this 5 minutes, write nonstop. About anything. Don't worry about what you are writing, don't worry about how it sounds, don't worry if you have nothing to say.
Peter Elbow called this "free writing." I just call it writing. Nonstop. For five minutes. Back to back.
Then, don't read it. Or, read it. Or, throw it away. It doesn't matter.
Do these two timed 5-minute writings back to back for 7 days.
By the end of the week, you will have achieved:
a) at least 10-minutes of exercise and/or outdoors time daily,
b) a verbal unleashing of everything that's been bugging you and thus stopping you from writing,
And, c) about 7 to 14 pages of writing.
It doesn't matter if what you wrote is good.
It just matters that you wrote.
Now, continue thinking, talking, and writing and make it part of your daily routine.
Stay tuned for more advice in the second segment on this series on how to cure writer's block!