Staring at a blank computer screen? Words won't come? The barest notion of a sentence remains elusive? Deadline looming? OK, try one of these techniques, tested by a team of professionals who have been similarly afflicted at one time or another.
Note: methods of staying *awake* while attempting to overcome writer's block, will be addressed as a separate, specialized topic.
Get a kitchen timer...one of those old fashioned ones with the big hand-cranked dial and a hideously shrill bell. Set it for 15 minutes...or 30..or 45...or 60. No more. Imagine that if you do not have something down on paper or screen (a lead in 15 mins., say, or two, three paragraphs in 30), by the time the bell goes off, something awful will happen. Your dog will eat a Hershey bar, or your mother will cut your hair funny. Get Ready. Get Set. GO !
Get out your favorite writing instruments (fountain pen and quadrille pad, PowerBook, wax tablet and stylus, whatever). Start putting down words and Don't Stop. Not for a second. Even if all you are writing is "I can't write, I can't think, I hate this," Just Keep Writing. Do not lift your pen from the paper (or whatever modality you've chosen). Do it for at least 15 minutes. Then go back and read it. We're pretty sure, you'll find a phrase or even a whole sentence on which to build.
||Take a 15-minute break. Go for a walk. Jump up and down. Scream. Get in touch with your inner scribe <g>
||If you have the luxury of time (assuming that you haven't left this to the last second), go to bed. As you settle in, think over the problem, the key points you need to express and make the specific intention to let your mind work on it during the night. Make sure there is a pen and paper ready at bedside because you could very well wake up with your opening sentence fully formed. Write it down quickly.
||Ask a friend or colleague to write one sentence (preferably the lead!!) about your topic. It's a handy way of wedging yourself into the process.
||Read some of your best stuff. You'll be amazed at just how good you are! Then take that surge of confidence and apply it to the task at hand.
||Make lists. Of words, ideas, phrases...things related to the topic or feeling or goal of the current piece. Shop in your head for inspiration by going back over the list.
||Get uncomfortable. Put on a pair of trousers with a waistband that is one inch too snug. If you like it toasty, turn off the heat. Prefer a chill in the air? Sit by the radiator. How long will you let yourself suffer?
||Employ the Monkey Chow Bar-Press Pellet System. Every time you finish a page -- or a paragraph, if the going is really rough -- reward yourself. Just a little something for reinforcement, but not so distracting that you get off track. A square of chocolate, a Pez from your favorite Woodstock dispenser, a dollar put towards a movie ticket or the purchase of a book.
If all else fails.....click here.
Have your own tried and true methods of beating the block?
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