The Things Writers Do to Unblock Themselves

Three years ago, I asked writers in a discussion list the things they do to unblock themselves. Here are some of the responses I received: 


1. Forget what I'm working on at the moment, put on some Springsteen and curl up with something written by Hemingway. (Yeah, I know, it's a strange combination.) 
(Steve B.) 
2. Stand up, get a mug of hot chocolate and watch a rerun of "The Simpsons." (Amit K.) 
3. I do housework which eventually throws my imagination back in gear because I hate housework. (Rita H.) 
4. Go for a walk. I think about the piece I am working on and play with scenes and even dialogue in my mind until I come up with something that feels right. The exercise and the fresh air usually start the creative juices flowing again. (Char A.) 
5. If it's something I've promised to do by a deadline, I sit at the 'puter and write stream-of-consciousness stuff until the real piece starts coming. This means: I sit here and record everything that is happening at the moment, like the cat walks in, the dog wants to go out, a description of the clock or the calendar, a car going down the road. I forgot to take my vitamins and, oh, I better get some mayo for the salad. Just words, any words at all. (Trudy S.) 
6. I work in my flower or vegetable gardens. Getting really close to the earth and nature helps to unclog my thinking process. (Mary L.) 
7. I take a bath while listening to music. This clears my head of what I am writing. Music is a great way for me to get in touch with my inspirational side. (Jamie R.) 
8. The first thing I do is put on a chick flick. I love to see girls having fun and getting the guys; plus it reminds me of the wild times I have had with my best friend. That always triggers my imagination. (Maggie G.) 
9. I imagine a real person that I know, someone who is like the people in my target audience. How would I explain what I want to explain to her? My kids will tell you I feel no shame in talking to myself. I just talk out loud until I feel convincing, and then I scramble for a piece of paper to capture my "brilliance" on. My first attempt at brilliance is usually about as shiny as a lump of coal--but it always has diamond potential. (Becki A.) 
10. Read something totally different from what I'm working on -- even if it's the newspaper. Getting my mind on something different helps dissolve that "block." (Lynn P.) 
11. I look something up in one of the encyclopaedias and try and write something similar of my own based on the facts. (Clare L.) 
12. As a newspaper reporter, I learned that writer's block wasn't permitted on that job. No way I could tell my editor I couldn't think of what to write...if I wanted to meet my deadlines and keep my job. So I guess I can say nowadays (I'm a freelancer, no longer a reporter) that I don't have writer's block. However, I'm always working on many writing projects...trying to keep many balls in the air...and often go from one to the other. If I had to work solely on one project from beginning to end with no breaks, perhaps I'd find it more difficult. So...to avoid writer's block, I'd say have many projects going, so that if you get stuck on one, you have another to go to. And take a walk when you really need a break to "dust the cobwebs from your mind." (Mary Emma Allen) 



Copyright 2003-2004 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta 



Shery is the creator of WriteSparks! - a software that 
generates over 1,000,000 Story Sparkers for Writers. 


Ray Bradbury

"Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto."