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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Lori Commentary: Tips for Overcoming Writer's Block

You're working on the latest - and perhaps your best work to date - when all of the sudden, words no longer flow as easily as they had over the last several weeks (or months, as it were). Frustration sets in, maybe combined with a bit of depression and anger along the way.

From the beginning writer to the world's most successful authors, we've all experienced the dreadful moments of writer's block at some point, but how do we overcome this aggravating situation?

Below are some tips authors used to conquer writer's block:

Pinpoint the problem. Are you concerned about next month's mortgage payment? Is your child struggling in school? Perhaps you're worried about your job's upcoming layoffs. These are just a few examples of negative energy that could result in writer's block. We all have everyday worries, but such worries can interfere with writing. The best solution is to step away from your project, deal with outside concerns, and once again able to concentrate, return to writing.

Free writing. Keep some paper nearby and just write what comes into your head. It doesn't have to have anything to do with your book or story, but sometimes keeping your "free writing" may be worked into your actual project later.

Do something else. When frustration from writer's block begins to set in, shut down the word processing program. Go for a walk, knit, clean the bathroom, dive into that hot new book you've been meaning to read for weeks, take the kids to the movies or a ball game, enjoy a cup of your favorite gourmet coffee, whatever it takes to clear your mind.

Don't be hard on yourself. As writers, we tend to be compulsive and overly critical, especially in the early stages of our work. Relax; the critiques will come later when your first draft is completed. Your story and plots are more important than every little grammar rule. That's why book editors exist.

Get writing out of your mind for awhile. Let's face it, authors live, sleep, eat, and breathe writing. Unfortunately, doing such twenty-four hours a day can results in writer's block. Something as simple as soaking in the bathtub for half an hour while clearing your head or calling a friend to discuss his/her new art gallery exhibit can give a whole new perspective before getting back to work.

Change your writing atmosphere. How long have you been chained to a desk with your laptop? Take advantage of a beautiful day and head to the park or beach instead, or a coffee house in less desirable weather. A change in surroundings will both recharge your batteries and release the block.

Get some noise! Though complete peace and quiet works for some writers, I've found that I write best with either music or television playing in the background. Even something simple as "white noise" coming from a fan can help in keeping words flowing.

Turn off the Internet. Online activities are perhaps the biggest distractions. Take a day to bypass Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and other regular online activities and just concentrate on writing. You'll find that productivity increases when the Internet is shut down and your entire focus is on writing.

Set a goal. What are you stuck on? Make goals the night before to tackle the most difficult task first thing the next morning. Once your most "stuck" task is out of the picture, the rest of your writing should come a lot easier.

Get some sleep. Writer's block is more likely to happen when you're tired. Make a note to write until a certain hour of the night, and then head to bed. A clear, well-rested mind is much better for productive writing than one that's spent on the computer doing marathon typing. However if you need to get through writer’s block right away, a quick catnap will rejuvenate both mind and body.

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