“You can’t think yourself out of a writing block, you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.”
– John Rogers
In our earlier post we gave you some ideas about what creative activities you can pursue when you want to take a break from writing. If you missed it, here’s the post –> 4 Creative writing tips to make you a better writer.
But what happens when you are unable to write?
Writer’s Block is often described as a writer’s inability to produce work.
Our guest writer – Preeti Milind More is back with a great post that provides very practical, easy-to-use suggestions that helps us look around us and find stimulators and small activities that will enhance our writing lives and help us write on the days we don’t feel like it.
Here’s what you can do when you encounter the famous writer’s block or simply feel your idea bank is close to empty. These are essentially, what we’d like to call, stimulators that kindle the creative fire.
How to tackle Writer’s Block
1. The visual stimulator
Watch TV. Yes, you got it right. Television has an important role to pay in writing too. We are mentally alert when we watch our favourite serial or the breaking news. When the mind is alert and prepared, it is clear to absorb details and register them.
News is an excellent visual stimulator which actually lets you know what you are interested in. It may be sports, politics or humour. You will find something that interests you or something that appeals you – there is enough meat for stories from the lives around us. Good way to keep the scary writer’s block at bay.
2. Get yourself a writing prompt
A writing prompt is much like a topic but is not really a topic. In a topic, you are expected to stick to it but a writing prompt is more flexible. You can use it as a point of reference but write whatever you want!
It is also called a story starter. It is something you write about or write around. It could be visual (a picture or a video) or a word or an entire paragraph. You can flip a book open, read a random sentence and use that as a writing prompt.
A word of caution: be sure to credit the author and the work you’re using as a prompt else it most definitely is plagiarising. It is not advisable to use such writing prompts when writing professionally.
3. Self expression and self acceptance
You may be penning a story on fictitious characters but do you know yourself well? Why? Look at yourself in the mirror and see what the first feature which is strikingly different is! (It may be something you like or dislike; it doesn’t matter) What matters is how ‘You’ are and how you perceive yourself. Even better, note all this in a book.
Next, think of what people would notice in you when they see you for the first time, or even by someone passing on the street! Believe it or not, all this comes handy while writing a story/article. You’ll be hit by an idea for your characters. Authors are known to infuse a bit of themselves – real, aspiratory or imagined in their characters. You will often get an idea from you!
4. The power of the pencil
Yes, here are the times of laptops and Thinkpads, but a writer’s creativity is set loose majorly by using a pencil. A writer begins from the basics and what’s the basic without a paper and pencil, the two basic elements we were first introduced to. Isn’t it something we even observe in small kids when they scribble their mind away on paper and come out with some amazing stuff?
One way of working around writer’s block is to grab your pencils and put away that laptop and handwrite whatever comes to your mind. You could even doodle. You could even ask your friend or close family member to write anything that comes to their mind. There is something very rustically stimulating about handwritten notes that the creative juices are sure to flow.
5. Pay attention to Emotive Value of words in another’s writing
Enough has been said about reading more to becoming a good writer. The more you read, you get more information and that is going to help you when you begin to write. Pay attention to small details. Each word an author uses carries a certain emotive value – cry is not same as sob is not the same as weep.
You can learn a lot while reading if you pay a little more attention to the value of each word. For example, If you are reading an article, what is it that you liked in it:
• Was it the ‘words’ that touched your heart? What sort of emotions did it evoke and why?
• What was the ‘accent’ in which the writer wrote? Can you hear the character in your head? That’s great writing then! So, how can you replicate hat effect?
• Did you identify with anything in it?
6. The importance of listening
A good writer has to be a good listener first. The more he listens keenly, the more his sense of creativity. A writer needs space to think, but if you do not listen well, you will not be able to pen a good story.
Keep an ear to each and every detail. When you listen to the goings-on around you, you might hear something interesting that could write about.
7. Oral words and memory
What we hear is important but how we perceive it is much more crucial when it goes to writing. When we meet an unknown person, what are the first things we observe?
* What is he speaking?
* With what intention does he speak to you?
* Does he have a peculiar accent?
* Does he have water in his eyes if it is an emotional talk?
* Any body movement? Twitching of the nose perhaps?
Watching people are the greatest stimulants! Observe and use the pencil! Another effective antidote for the writer’s block.
8. The power of recollection
Another important quality of a writer is recollection. Stories have always been and will be a part of our lives, whether it is fairy tales or grandma’s ‘goodnight’ stories, we all have a favourite story to recall!
As a listener, we get involved in the stories to such an extent that we actually identify with the characters and start thinking like them. However unbelievable the stories seem to be, the magic reaches you.
Think about all the stories you heard as a child or as an adult that fascinated you. As a writer, not only does your listening power get a boost, but your own creativity gets enriched.
A writer encounters many incidents and general conversations in daily life. But it’s how he puts it in a package and presents it to his audience which ultimately matters! The next question which then comes is ‘How do I present it?’
The writer could use the narrative form like in stories, or else the script form which contains a lot of interaction.
9. Write to an older self
If you were asked to write a letter to your older self what would you write? Wouldn’t you pack in all your philosophical learning and a list of goals? Just for the fun of it write to your older self – leave notes to yourself, write down little things that made you smile or got you all choked up, write down your biggest fears and anxieties – anything you want to tell your older self. Fill up a page or two. Revisit this writing after a few days and you will have enough stimuli for your creative writing!
A lot is written here, but there’s lot more out there! Each and every day is a learning experience. And, the best writer is one who is open to every single movement of life. So, before you actually dive into writing one of your pieces, follow these hints and ensure it’s the best!
Preeti Milind More is a post graduate in Commerce and has completed her diploma in business management. Earlier Preeti has written for Pune Mirror and SHE – A supplement of Sakaal Times. She is currently pursuing a diploma in Creative Writing from Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning and is a freelance writer for Life365- a lifestyle portal.