April 16, 2015

How to deal with writer’s block


If you’re staring at your keyboard and would rather wipe it than type on it, this could be a sign of writer’s block. Will it last forever? No. Is there anything you can do about it? Sure.

It’s like being boxed between cars in a parallel parking space. Tight, but you have choices: You can wait until the owner of the other car comes along to free you. Or you can inch your vehicle by increments until you wiggle out.

Trying to think of something new to do might sound like an experiment in frustration when your thoughts already seem blah or singularly uninspired, but don't fret. Remember: Wiggle.

Do something different. If you can’t go anywhere, stand on a chair or stretch out on the floor, but get a fresh perspective. Look up and notice the texture of the ceiling. Look down. Describe your feet. Look around and notice the sound, smell, sight, taste, or feel of objects surrounding you every day. Munch your salad slowly and identify the flavors and textures. Compare. Listen to the hum of a washing machine, a fan, a furnace, an air conditioner, then fill in words that fit the beat.

Take a mini-vacation. Getting away from normal surroundings can help you to chip big chunks from a writer’s block even if just for an afternoon of vacating your premises. (Pun intended.) Use your writer’s block as the impetus for touring that museum in town you keep meaning to visit. Or go to a movie with sub-titles. Check out a library book of poems totally unlike anything you usually read or write. Pick up a travel magazine, and look at photographs of enticing places. Search for a video of a country you hope to visit or, better yet, one you would never dare to set a sandal inside.

Consider your interests and available options. Writer’s block is like a box every poet or writer steps into occasionally, but you don’t have to stay there. Even if you’re really boxed in, you have choices. Jump out. Find a different perspective on whatever is familiar, safe, or boring!

Mingle! Get around people. Go to a mall. Help out at a Christian service center. Attend a Bible study. Worship with a church you have never visited.

Take care of yourself. If none of the above appeals to you, lounge on the deck. Rock out on the porch. Pray for the Lord to speak to you even as you sleep. Take a nap.


[The original version of this article appeared here on March 5, 2010, entitled “Writer’s Block In A Box.”]

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-author of 27 traditionally published books in all genres, is on a mission to help other Christian Poets & Writers through blogs, writing resources, and e-books such as the Christian Writer’s Guide and Christian Poet's Guide to Writing Poetry.


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