Overcoming Writer's Block: Turning On The Idea Faucet
You have your perfect cup of coffee with music in the background, a beautiful scene before you out a window, your new standing desk to keep the blood flowing, and you have the house to yourself for three hours.
Today is the day you are going to pound out that writing! But then?
NOTHING IS COMING!
It’s writer’s block or “graphospasm” for those who really feel it’s some kind of incurable condition. A condition, maybe, but it should be a temporary one.
I’m in the middle of working on a story collection with a group of real estate agents who are putting out a book at the end of March. Almost every one of them was experiencing writer’s block at some point during the process. However, that doesn’t mean that they were all truly suffering from the same inability to write.
Some were blocked because they didn’t have the idea or know how to communicate or capture the idea. Some were struggling with how to organize their writing. They couldn’t see the trees for the forest or, in some cases, the forest for the trees. And let’s be honest, in the modern day, how many of our blocks are the result of our own distractions? Or our constantly running minds?
When it comes to creative blocks, writers often believe this is about finding right words, adding the right flair, or creating the right details. In reality, these things are additions and developments that typically flow quite easily . . . ONCE THE WRITING STARTS. The true block, from a creative perspective, is getting the idea out to begin with.
The first step is to get the idea you want to run with and start systematically picking away at it until flow arrives.
Do you already know your topic?
If so, use observations, research and past notes to give yourself a place to start. Don't feel like you have to start at the beginning. Just write about one concept or one piece at a time. Let the process of writing guide you, and we can piece it together later!
Are you building your topic?
Even if you don't know what your topic is yet, it's still important to start writing. Find something that inspires you (like a piece of art, a location, etc...) Write about the focal point of that inspiration; the thing that draws you in. Think about the important elements: physical objects, situational circumstances, and figurative journeys that affect the focal point. What questions do you have about it? What are the possible answers?
Capturing Words & Ideas
When you are having creative writer's block, it can be helpful to capture ideas and inspiration when they are present. Raise your awareness of the words and ideas that are around you all the time.
One way to do that is by starting a dialogue journal. Capture words from a real life conversation. What is the MOOD of the dialogue? What do you like about the structure of the dialogue? Make some notes about WHY you like certain sentences and words
Another way to harness creative inspiration, is to begin and idea file. Do ideas strike you throughout your day, but vanish when you actually sit down to write? Write them down in the moment! There are digital tools for organizing your ideas, like the cloud-based service Google Keep. Keep all of your ideas even if they don’t have a place in a specific area you’re working on. They become a treasure trove of inspiration when you sit down to write.
Start The Conversation
If you’re wondering HOW to move forward with the story-telling, use a mix of structured creativity and spontaneous creativity.
You can use technology to help by setting creative alarms throughout your day or week that will give you an opportunity to dig into your work, as well as anticipate and store up ideas as you await that exciting work time. This helps change the mindset to make that upcoming writing time something you look forward to!
Try using voice-to-text or a recording app to speak your story into your phone or tablet while you drive to meetings, errands, or other outings during the day.
I also like using the "It’s just coffee!" approach. Instead of trying to “be a WRITER,” imagine you are at coffee or drinks with a lifelong friend and you are telling him or her the story.
While working with one of the real estate agent authors, it became clear to me that his struggle was simply just getting comfortable enough with the content to start the conversation. The story he was telling, after all, was very personal and had a great impact on his life. Sitting in front of a blank page to pour out something so intimate wasn’t coming easily to him. As we practiced the “It’s just coffee,” approach, I watched his tension disappear and the story gently flowed forth like an exchange between friends. Also, by imagining coffee with someone close to him, he was able to picture the other side of the conversation that would occur as he told the story.
What questions would he have to answer for his friend?
What details would he have to provide that he couldn’t presume his friend understood?
Waking The Brain!
Other great ways to get inspired are by starting with one of my unique, full-sensory Blockbreakers exercises, which are proprietary teachings that help to “wake the brain.” These tools, specifically created to tap into both your right and left-brain functions for greatest creative engagement, will get the synapses firing away so that writer’s block can be a thing of the past!
My “Let Go” series, which is being published in February and March of 2019, is filled with Wake The Brain Blockbusters. Pick up the first book in the series, “Let Go Of The Apple,” next week!