Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: From our readers: “How can I overcome writer’s block?”
Diane MacKinnon: I overcome writer’s block on a daily basis by saying to myself, “I’ll just write for five minutes and see what happens.” I give myself permission to write drivel because I know, from experience, that there’s always something in the drivel that I can use–and sometimes what I write isn’t drivel at all! And five minutes turns into ten or fifteen minutes, and sometimes it turns into an hour or two.
The most important thing for me is to take the pressure off. When I sit down at the blank page, I can’t think about the final draft, I have to focus on getting something down. Even when I’m rewriting and polishing a piece, I tell myself this is just another draft.
Sitting down to write, even when I don’t feel like it, is how to overcome writer’s block. Check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on the subject. Show up at the page and the words will come.
Deborah Lee Luskin: I start every day with Morning Pages – and ease into the day by laying down about three pages of ink. (Yes, handwritten scrawl.) Often, the Morning Pages morph into an essay for a post, radio commentary or newspaper column. Fiction – especially at the beginning of a project – can be trickier. I give myself permission to write around the scene or character and to write stuff that I know will never make the cut. And sometimes, I know that the best thing I can do is whistle up the dog and go for a walk.
Jamie Wallace: I don’t really believe in writer’s block, but I do believe in writer’s semi-paralysis. It may be a subtle difference, but I’ll never say, “I can’t write,” I’ll just say “Writing is extra difficult today.” You can always put words down. Always. They may be crap, but you can still put them down. And that, after all, is the purpose of the shitty first draft, right?
Anyway, here are four posts I wrote a while back on the causes of writer’s block and how to get over ’em. Enjoy!