Got Writer’s Block? Get Spontaneous.
Writer’s block happens to almost every writer to varying degrees. You sit at your computer, staring at the blank screen, the little blinking cursor taunting you with it’s idleness. You might start a sentence, then delete, then start again, delete – before you know it you’ve got what would once have been a waste basket filled with scrunched up paper and nothing to show for it. Many writers will fortify that writer’s block by stressing about it. It’s a proven scientific fact* that anxiety and frustration exponentially increases the weight and magnitude of your writer’s block. (*not really a scientific fact – but only because nobody has figured out how to measure such a thing. If there were a study, we have no doubt it would be proven out).
There are plenty of ways to escape the weight of that giant block. Here are some of our favourites (yes, because they involve spontaneity).
Channel Your Inner Kerouac.
Jack Kerouac had some pretty unconventional writing habits but there is one that can really help get the words flowing again. He called it ‘Spontaneous Prose’ and it involves nothing more than writing whatever enters your mind. It’s a stream of consciousness flowing straight onto the page. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to tell a story, it should never be judged in the moment – just let it flow. The beauty of this technique is that it gets you writing again, it takes the pressure of you and boosts your confidence because, look at you – you’re a writing machine. Direct this spontaneous creative flow by thinking about your problematic character or story line and let it rip. Don’t worry about what you’re writing; the spontaneous release of ideas will spark something and get you back on track.
Whether you’re writing a non-fiction or fictional piece, if you’ve got writer’s block it might be good to get a bit crazy. We’re not talking about streaking through the park or anything but imagine your main character doing something like that. It doesn’t have to go in your story, it can just be a way to reconnect with your character — why would they or wouldn’t they do that, would something like that make them or the story more interesting. It’s a technique that Steven King uses – or similar – he adds a new problem or challenge for his characters. Ramp up the stakes, get crazy and see where the story goes. Who knows – maybe your were blocked because you were holding back your character’s inner madness.
Go Walk About.
There is nothing that fresh air can’t solve. Okay, okay – there are a lot of things it can’t solve but still many things it can solve – including writer’s block. Did you know that writers like JK Rowlings and Henry Miller included walking in their creative process? There are even scientific studies* that have shown that walking helps to clear the mind, improve creativity and inspire strokes of insight. (*real studies, this time!) We also find that an aimless, wandering-type walk can return us to the present moment, release us from anxiety and help us reconnect with our inner voice. We, of course, prefer to start our wanderings with a random roll of the Zufall dice.
Mini Block Breakers.
When the enormity of the task at hand has you feeling overwhelmed (and unable to write) try writing something small to get the keys ticking again. We love to use spontaneity to conjure up stories and get our creative juices flowing. Try opening up a book, any book, to page 49 and select the word right in the middle of the page. Write a micro-story (a couple of paragraphs) starting with that word. Or, close your eyes, pick a colour and then open your eyes. The first thing you see that is that colour – write a micro-story featuring that item. You get the picture. Once you’ve done one or two of these mini block breaking exercises, come on back to your big piece and you’ll find you’ve hurdled the writer’s block.
Roll the dice, change your environment, get a new perspective, get crazy and let your conscious loose – all spontaneous actions and all great remedies for writer’s block. How do you get over yours? Have any of these methods worked for you?