6 ways to tackle writer’s block


I enjoy writing, but sometimes for me the hardest part is getting started.  I have all these thoughts and ideas swarming around in my head, but laying down that first sentence to get me on my way is an insurmountable challenge. Have you had that problem, too?  Here’s a couple of tricks that have worked for me.

Start in the middle
If I know what I want to say but can’t figure out the start point, I just jump right into the meat and save the trappings for later. Sometimes getting the “middle” stuff out of your head and in print makes the logical starting point swim into view without much effort.

Bullet point thoughts
If I have a number of points that I want to make, sometimes scribbling out a quick outline or using mind mapping software is invaluable to making some logical sense out of my mental chaos. Once I have the road map of where I want to go, writing out the details is a breeze.

Just start writing. Anything.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got about breaking through writer’s block is to just start writing. About anything. About the fact that you don’t know what to write. About how cold your coffee got while you agonized over that first sentence for the last half hour. Just starting the process of putting words down engages the brain and starts it heading in the right (write?) direction.

Try using different tools
Sometimes simply switching what you write with can give your writing a completely different feel and direction. If the keyboard isn’t cutting it, switch to old-fashioned pen and paper. There are many times I’ve started with one and finished with the other, or switched back and forth every time I got stuck.  Works miracles for me.

Do a brain dump
Just start writing out your thoughts in no particular order.  Just get all that stuff out of your head. You can always go back and edit it into some kind of sane format later; “copy/paste” and “delete” are magnificent functions that you should feel free to use whenever necessary.

Change location
Sometimes it’s as simple as changing your surroundings. I find that my writing is most productive in the back yard, restaurants and coffee shops. There’s something about the “public anonymity” that works for me. Find a couple of your own “sweet spots” and use them as needed.

The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how you do it — just that you do.  No one sees anything but your finished draft anyway, so go ahead and write in whatever way or whatever place works best for you.

What tricks take you past the block?

Colleen Clifford

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