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7.4: Overcoming Writer's Block

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    Earlier we mentioned writer’s block. If you occasionally suffer from writer’s block, you’re not alone-writer’s block can affect even experienced writers. First, a definition: writer’s block is a temporary inability to get words on paper (or on the computer). Like many other problems, it has a life cycle-denial, despair, acceptance and recovery. Recognizing this cycle and the causes of writer’s block (fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of offending and fear of running out of ideas) are the first steps to overcoming it.

    In most cases we just need a gentle nudge to get us back on track. In her book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creative Writing, Laurie E. Rozakis provides several suggestions on how to overcome writer’s block. Here are some of her ideas, as well as some of our own:

    • Brainstorm or "free write" to get your creative juices flowing. Spill your brains and don’t worry about punctuation-just get it down. Stay close to your outline; don’t revise or polish. If your outline is comprehensive, you may only need to string the ideas together with brief transitions. If your outline is a series of key words in a logical pattern, you’ll have to fill in the larger blanks.
    • Start wherever you want. Write the introduction last as many writers do. The key here is to just start writing. Try starting with the part that’s easiest to write.
    • On a similar note, try writing just the topic sentences for each paragraph. Once you do this, the other support sentences will start really flowing.
    • Avoid procrastination. Waiting until the last minute just increases your "blockage”!
    • Forget about page length, word count or other constraint. Work these when you edit.
    • Tell your ideas to a friend.
    • Briefly do some mindless activity-but only briefly!
    • \(\quad\) Try changing your writing mode (computer to hand-written and vice versa).
    • Use visual aids. This can help ignite your ideas and thoughts. Then, you can write them.
    • Develop rituals or routines to get in the mood for writing.
    • If you work in a noisy area, try using earplugs to cut down on noise and distractions.

    SUMMARY: Congratulations! The most difficult task is over-you’ve successfully written the first draft. Take a break and step back from your draft. When you come back, you’ll be ready to revise and edit it. Perhaps more significantly, you’ve overcome writer’s block if you have a draft. Writer’s block is temporary and curable: there are lots of ways to overcome it. Hopefully, the tips here will help you. Always remember-writing should be fun, not frightening!

    This page titled 7.4: Overcoming Writer's Block is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by US Air Force (US Department of Defense) .

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