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Article 8: Writing

7 Basic Rules for Crushing Writer's Block

by Patricia Fry

It's more than annoying. It can be downright debilitating to find yourself sitting in front of the computer staring at a blank screen. Your deadline is looming and you can't think of anything to write. You wonder if you'll ever pen another word again. Writer's Block is frustrating, but it's not fatal, nor is it usually permanent.

I'm often asked if I ever suffer from Writer's Block. And I have to say, "No." But that's only because I know how to overcome it. Here are some remedies that work for me.

Just start writing. No, I'm not trying to be a wise guy. I can't count the number of times an article has begun to take shape after I started typing even unrelated words on the blank screen. Don't wait hours or days for inspiration. Go ahead and type your name, address and phone number in the upper left corner of the screen. Type out some ideas for a title. And then just start pouring out random thoughts on the subject of your story or article. Let the words flow without editing. You'll be surprised at how quickly you're story will begin to develop.

Use another method of writing. When the words won't come, I sometimes find it helpful to get away from the computer and go sit down with my favorite pen and pad. While I still may not be able to write the first sentence, I generally come up with several great ideas for the article. And once I transfer those ideas to the computer, the article starts to come together.

Write something else. One of the beauties of being a writer is that we never run out of things to write about. Right? When I truly can't get into a particular assignment, I switch to another one. If you're feeling too chipper to write the murder scene for your novel, for example, move on to the party chapter. If you're stuck on a piece about ergonomics in the workplace, put it aside and spend this time on your story about the history of the teddy bear.

Get involved in a different task. As a full-time freelance writer, I have a constant array of tasks to do every week. If I don't feel like tackling a particular project, I can choose another one. I might decide to catch up on my bookwork, clean out one of my filing cabinets, send query letters, write new marketing material for one of my books or start the research for another article.

Boost your ego. Sometimes Writer's Block can bruise one's self esteem. In this case, it's wise to do something to increase your confidence level. If you excel at needlework, spend some time with your favorite project. If you have a green thumb, do some gardening. It's easier to break through Writer's Block when you feel good about yourself.

Get active. Fresh air and exercise are extremely freeing and healing for someone with Writer's Block. Get out and walk, jog, bicycle, garden, swim or fly a kite. You'll go back to work with a new perspective on your story.

Meditate. Often Writer's Block is nothing more than a temporary lack of concentration. Writers typically feel blocked when they're stressed or rushing to meet a deadline, for example. Whenever I feel overwhelmed and I can't focus on the writing assignment at hand, I meditate. I close my eyes and sit quietly for a few minutes. I clear my mind of the clutter from the day. And I ask for clarity and focus. If meditation isn't your stress-reliever of choice, write in your journal for fifteen minutes. You might be surprised at what you can accomplish when you consciously release the stresses of the day.

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