Nov 18, 2011

Guest Post: Working Through Writer's Block, by Anthony Garcia

Solutions to Writer's Block

When you have a writer’s deadline, nothing is as frustrating as writer’s block. Whether the “victim” is a student who has a deadline for an assignment in graduate programs online, or whether it is a professional writer with an internal expectation to get a certain amount of work done, writer’s block is incredibly frustrating and intimidating for writers of all ages and experience levels. There are solutions to get over writer’s block so that the blank page or computer screen stop staring back and taunt them with their lack of progress.

Be Prepared

Sometimes writer’s block comes from being under-prepared to write about specific topics. This might mean having to write about a topic they have little knowledge about and haven’t prepared for, or because the topic was assigned and the writer has little interest. If this is the kind of preparation the writer lacks, then a solution for that problem is to research. Whether writing as a student or as a professional, gaining background information can be an integral part of making the brain click so that the words will flow more readily.

Another part of preparation is to think about where the writing will go before you start. You can make an outline before writing, or you might try brainstorming possible topics to include in the writing. Some people can do this by talking through the story, even if the writer is only speaking to herself. Many times getting those main ideas out there, whether on paper or some other manner can lay out what needs to be done so the writer may begin.

Start in the Middle (or the end)

Sometimes the issue for writers is how to start, or even where to start. One solution is to start with what is known. Sometimes we know that something important happened, but it can be the difficult to figure out how to get the reader to that point. One solution for the writer is to ignore the beginning and go the part they know well, the middle, or the end, or wherever the climax occurred. By going to the arc of action, the writer will often better understand what information is left out of the writing, and then the writer will know what to include in the beginning.

Walk Away

There comes a point for anyone suffering through writer’s block that sitting and staring at the blank page or the blank screen elicits diminishing returns. If you have tried other solutions but are still experiencing writer’s block, you may just need a mental break. Breaks help, even if they are short. It is possible that a writer can do too much concentrating, so much so that no original or free-flowing thoughts can penetrate the bullet proof wall that won’t allow the writer to get anything accomplished. Sometimes, taking 15 minutes to think about something unrelated to writing is all that is necessary in order to start writing. If something pops into their head right away, it might not be Pulitzer Prize material, but it can get the writer started.

Talk to People

The writer who still has writer’s block should talk to someone. It is not necessary to talk to people about writer’s block. As a matter of fact, it can be helpful to talk about baseball, a television show, or a song, or anything in the world other than writing. For the writer, there is in the back of their mind no matter what, so it is possible that while talking, or watching television something will click. However, it can also be really helpful to bounce ideas off of others about the writing itself. Maybe someone has an experience with something you are writing about, and could shed light on the topic. Since all of us have different life experiences, it can be really useful to get a multitude of perspectives when you are at a loss for ideas. With writer’s block, almost anything can allow the block to go away and help the writing process to start.

There are few things more frustrating than writer’s block, especially when there is a deadline or a commitment that must be met. However, few people have died from writer’s block, so by trying a few different proven strategies, writer’s block too shall pass. My best advice: just don’t’ give up! 


Anthony recently completed his graduate education in English Literature. A New Mexico native, he currently resides and writes in Seattle, Washington. He writes primarily about education, travel, literature, and American culture.
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