Friday, April 4, 2014

Is Writer's Block All Bad?

I always used to use the excuse of writer’s block whenever I couldn’t think of something to write that day or if I got stuck writing a piece of prose. (I'm a poet.) But then I thought about what writer’s block really is. It’s just an excuse to not write or avoid writing. A lot of people use random excuses to not write: I have to do laundry. I need to pick my kids up. I have homework to do. I have to eat. In my opinion, true writers write, and those who truly love writing will always find a way to get around writer’s block—they don’t let is defeat them.

Something I do when I can’t write is read other people’s work. This will usually get me thinking about different ways to approach about the same ideas. I will pick up one of my many poetry books that I have accumulated over the years and open up to a random page. I will read that poem over and over again until I think of different ways to write that idea. If that doesn’t work, I pick another random page or book until an idea pops into my head.

“Writer’s block” is not always something to frown upon. It can lead you to someplace great because you are working hard to get past the rough spot of writing. Sometimes you have to get stuck and frustrated to create something new and amazing; sometimes you have to find new and interesting ways to work yourself out of the block, and this will lead you to new and different places for your writing.

Philip Dacey had a workshop about writer’s block and gave a list of things that writers could do when they “can’t write.” A previous blog post listed the first nine things from Philip Dacey’s workshop. Here are the next five things that you can do when you "can’t write":

10.   Deceive your reader. Write something that is so plausible to your readers so they don’t realize that you are lying to them. This is similar to the persona activity where you would write something in the perspective of another person or identity, but instead, you are hiding instead of signaling.
11.   Permuting the line. This seems like a fun yet inspirational idea to experiment with language. Take one line and change it. Change the idea of the line but changing the order of the words. Replace one word with another to change the rhythm and meaning.
12.   Write only first lines, free of the obligation to complete the poem. I’ve done this many times when writing my poetry. I would have this one line stuck in my head unsure of where I would go with it. I would write that one line and see where it goes.
13.   Try automatic writing. Just write for however many lines and see where it takes you. Don’t think about revising or scratching lines out with your pen. Just write. If you are caught revising, it’s not automatic enough.
14.   Brainstorm through your memory. I, myself, love doing this when I’m not sure what I want to write about. For five minutes or so I would just write about my past memories using as few words as possible and move onto the next memory to see where it takes you.

Try a few of these ideas and go write.

1 comment:

Allan Calder said...

Using others works to inspire you, to move past that momentary block is a great idea. I've got a few tools in my arsenal to move past the road blocks, and I can always use another one. Thanks for sharing.