How To Have Writer’s Block
I have absolutely no interest in writing quickly and easily. Or feeling like the words are tumbling off my fingers so fast I can barely keep up. Uh-uh, not me.
I would MUCH rather sit and stare at the blank screen on my computer. And when that gets boring, look out the window. I'd prefer to do laundry, or scrub the kitchen floor. Or organize my junk drawer. I don't know about you, but I find that surfing the internet all day is vastly preferable to getting a lot of writing done.
But, writer's block. No matter how hard we try, sometimes it is just damned hard to get there. So I offer the following suggestions so that you, too, can spend whole days not writing:
1. Don't know where you are going. Start randomly anew each day, without any concern for what came before. Just pluck inspiration out of thin air and write. Because, you know, that happens. Not. But fortunately you don't want it to, so you are all set!
2. Don't do any prep work. Similar to above, remember that you don't need to know anything about your characters, or where they live and work, or the theme, or absolutely anything about anything at all. Just tell yourself to write! Not knowing any of the above will bring on writer's block faster than you can whisper grammar.
3. Don't write regularly. Nah. Much better to give yourself, oh, say an hour every month or so. Because then by the time you've remembered what it was you thought you might write, your time will be up–and you won't have written anything! Which is, after all the goal. Writer's block, baby!
4. Focus on how blocked you are. Because, you know, what you focus on, you get more of. So pondering your writer's block in all its glory is a surefire way to make sure it sticks around!
5. Check email every five minutes. Surely something to distract you will have arrived. Oh look–here's a missive from a nice man in Nigeria who wants to give you money. It's probably worth writing back to him, don't you think?
Wait, what? You're tired of having writer's block after all? Your kitchen is sparkling, your laundry is finished, and there's nothing happening in the world worth reading about on the internet You want to write again? Geesh. Some people. Well, if you insist, here are the antidotes to the above suggestions:
1A. Always have a place to go. Hemingway famously stopped mid-sentence at the end of a writing session. That may be a bit much, but leave off somewhere that you know what happens next. And/or, write yourself a note about where to go. Time and time again I find that I flounder when I'm confused about where I'm going.
2A. Do your prep work! This will help enormously with #1A. A really fun approach is this book called The Writer's Coloring Book, which I just discovered today. But even if it doesn't suit your style, do some advance work. Think about character, setting, theme and plot. It will pay you huge dividends if you do.
3A. Write every day. Just shut up and do it.
4A. Good, better, best. The Qi Gong master I follow emphasizes this. Do your best in the given moment, whether that is five minutes of writing or two hours. And focus on what you've done, not what you are not doing. Good is better than nothing.
5A. Shut out distractions. Ha! I'm the queen of checking email and looking up news stories. But I also use Freedom, which disconnects me from the internet for a pre-set amount of time. It is a lifesaver for a writer, and at $10, a steal of a deal!. (I just went to the website to check the link, and you can also download a tool that blocks you from social media.)
That's it for my suggestions. How do you encourage writer's block–or find ways to get over it?
Photo by wbd.