Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fighting Writer's Block

Writer’s block is like someone coming after you with a metaphorical knife and trying to stab you right in the middle of intellectual creativity. It’s the most scary, macabre thing for a writer to unexpectedly find that he or she has stopped having ideas. It’s a powerful incentive not to write, because you fear that you’re going to write something that’s not good enough.

The good thing about writer's block is that it is all in the head. And since it stays in the back of your mind, it can be made to stay there indefinitely by practicing effective habits that reinforces and affirms your creativity. The following are some proven strategies authors employ to eliminate writer's block:

Overcome the Impulse Perfection. One strategy for overcoming writer’s block is to tell yourself that you don’t have to be perfect, that what you’re creating doesn’t have to be an end result. It’s part of the process of discovery. If you’re going off on an adventure, how can you blame yourself for not quite knowing where you’re going to go or for being a little bit imperfect on the way?

Write a Lousy First Draft. The bad first draft is precisely what it is. A semi nonsensical scribble intended to get your brain going from a cold start. Just as you don't have to hit the ball out of the park on your first strike, 100% of the time, writing perfectly on your first draft doesn't have to be mandatory too. Give yourself enough time to loosen up your mental muscles by writing enough nonsense and you will practically see writer's block melt away.

Oddly enough, this doesn’t just apply to writers. Action star Sylvester Stallone advises writing anything. "I just write anything, and pretty soon other things start coming out of me, and the words start to flow again.” I’ve read pieces by computer programmers advising the same thing-- if you’re stuck and nothing will come, write a lousy first draft anyway.

Vary Your Writing Routine. Changing something about your creative routine can help too. Sometimes going to talk to someone instead of just sitting in your room causes a different part of your brain to become active. You can also trick your mind into working by varying the settings where you do most of your writing. Some writers head to the forests. Some prefer booking a hotel. Some go on long cruises.

Take a Walk. Sometimes it helps to walk away from your work and go take a shower - some of my best ideas happen when I’m doing something completely unrelated to work. Anybody trying to do something creative will face this fear that they are not good enough or that the project is not going to pan out nicely. The key is to let go of that fear and allow yourself to fail. Write a piece of crap and keep at it until you find yourself writing something you can live with again.

Writing is a process that is best done with minimum stress. The creative mind cannot function beyond its stress threshold. It is important to tell yourself that you don’t have to be perfect. That it's OK to write crap. And then you just write anything, let it come out of you, and don’t judge it until later. Counterintuitive as it may seem, the ultimate secret to avoiding writer’s block is not to try.

For more writing tips, head over to the iUniverse Writers Tips and learn from the experience of iUniverse Author Focus.


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