SUGGESTIONS FOR OVERCOMING WRITER'S BLOCK
SUGGESTIONS FOR OVERCOMING WRITER'S BLOCK
COMPILED BY GLENNIS HOBBS
1. Collect various swatches of fabric such as carpet strips, satin, lace, silk, felt, velvet, etc. Sew these together or tack them onto a cardboard. Close your eyes, run your fingers over the fabric and write down the feelings or whatever else comes into your mind.
2. Find a picture, drawing, or photograph of a person or place that inspires you and keep it
near your writing area.
3. Select a cartoon and write some dialogue to go with it. Try to make the cartoon's caption the last piece of dialogue.
4. Take a prose piece you have written and try writing it in poetic form.
5. Try rewriting a poem in prose form.
6. Take a picture and do a character sketch of it.
7. Turn the sound down on the TV and write dialogue to go with the program.
8. Take a thesaurus, say an incantation, close your eyes, open the book and pick a word at random. Write the first thing that comes into your mind.
9. Try smelling different aromas. This could be done by going to a perfume counter, candle store, coffee shop or spice shop and just inhaling.
10. Take yourself out to dinner, try some food or beverage you've never tried before and describe it.
11. Write a letter to yourself, a friend, an official etc. Describe the weather, why you are having writer's block, your opinion of a political situation, complain about the city's potholes, your neighbour's barking dog, your opinion of your sister-in-law's new hat, etc. Send an e-mail to
one of your keypals.
12. Have more than one writing project going. That way when one stumps you, work on the other one.
13. Tape your work onto a tape recorder and play it back. Get someone else to read it aloud.
14. Bake some bread. The physical action of kneading the bread will get rid of some of the frustration you are feeling. While the bread is baking, describe the smell of it. Spread some thick jam over the bread and descrive the colour of the jam.
15. Stare at an apple, an orange, a lemon or other object and write the first thing that comes into your mind, even if it's only what a stupid suggestion this is.
16. Go out for coffee, sit in the waiting room of a doctor's office, go to an airport terminal or bus depot or a public library. Attend a political meeting or a sporting event. Go to some place where you can find people. Listen to their conversations and record pieces of dialogue.
17. Do something that will provoke people's reactions: walk about a store with your slip hanging down, wear colours that clash violently, wear running shoes with a formal gown, read your book upside down. See if anyone notices and record their reactions.
18. Call a writing friend and discuss your piece of writing with them.
19. Make yourself a cup of tea and go soak in a bubble bath.
20. Play with a child or read a book with one.
21. Get physical. Go for a walk. Take a friend with you and bounce writing ideas off them.
22. Go some place where you can watch water move.
23. Get rid of your distractions. Buy your husband and his buddy tickets to a double-header, bribe your in-laws to take the kids overnight. Turn the answering machine on or unplug the phone.
24. Go to a writer's conference or go on a writing retreat.
25. Keep a notebook with you at all times to write down ideas.
26. Write down the directions for a recipe or how to make something.
27. Describe yourself as a colour.
28. Read a play out loud. Use different voices for different characters.
29. Try automatic writing. Put on a slow-rhythmical piece such as "Sleepwalker". Put your pen on the paper. Close your eyes and move your pen back and forth to the rhythm of the music. See if this inspires anything.
30. Try writing in a different genre.
31. Find a neutral setting such as a nook in the public library or university library, archives, a writer's studio, a hotel room in a strange city, where there will be no distractions or responsibilities for you.
32. Listen to music. Find a piece that inspires you and play it to get in the mood. I find "Clare de Lune" by Debussy, Pachelbel's "Canon in D", Handel's "Water Music" and Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony". Listen to the words of a song and try to write a plot scenario for the song.
33. Do not complain to your friends or family about your writer's block. They will merely sympathize or pity you. Only a fellow writer can understand the pain and frustration you are feeling.
34. Get yourself really depressed. Watch the most depressing movies you can find and listen to the most depressing music you can find. Wallow in the black pit of self pity. Write about how depressed you feel.
35. Go shopping. Cheer yourself up. Buy yourself a new hat or a new computer. Chocolate has been known to work miracles.
36. Pick an object and write twenty adjectives to describe it.
37. Scribble out the bad parts of your story. Cut the good parts up and paste them onto to newspaper.
38. Rip up or burn some bad pieces of writing.
39. Ignore all inner messages that say "you're not a writer." Listen only to those that say "I AM A WRITER. I AM A TERRIFIC WRITER."
40. What is the earliest memory from your childhood?
41. Act like a child. Go swing in the park. Walk through leaves. MAke a snowman Fly a kite.
42. Do a web search under “Writer’s Block and see what you find.
43. Write me a letter and tell me how you made out with these suggestions.
44. Join a writers' group. If there isn’t one in your area, start one.
45. Consider joining an online writers group.
© Copyright 2001 by Glennis Hobbs. Revised March, 2018. All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced without written permission from the author
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