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Blog-Help is Here for writer's block

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

Having trouble getting words on the page?

Stumped what to write in that email, report, or –dare we go there– “creative piece” that is expected to reflect your true genius?

Welcome to Writer's Block, the age-old condition that sometimes prevents even the best writers from getting their ideas on paper or on screen.

I’ve experienced it, myself, lately. I mean, it’s March now, and I’m still blaming New Year’s resolutions for crowding out my writing.

The truth is I didn’t make any resolutions this year. I’m just procrastinating. Yep, the teacher lady is guilty of what she scolded college students for over the years: taking days, even months, to craft what could be cranked out in an hour. And it isn’t because I’ve been going to frat parties either; at least my students had interesting excuses. I can’t really tell you why I’m stalling.

Since 1947, when Austrian psychiatrist Dr. Edmund Berglar coined “writer’s block,” writers and scientists have come up with various possible causes of this condition. Some claim it’s connected to perfectionism; we’re afraid to write something bad, so we just don’t write. Others believe it’s linked to physical issues, like fatigue or illness. Freud’s ideas were, well…Freudian, and seem downright bizarre, to wit: creepy.

Whatever the causes, “the block” is annoying, especially if you have a looming deadline. But never fear, Words River is here with 3 remedies:

1. Get your mind off yourself. Turn the spotlight away from you and, especially, from your self-doubts. Veteran reporter, Chip Scanlan, cautions writers to turn off USUCK-FM, that negative background noise that steals your confidence. Before writing, tune your inner radio to a positive station, then focus on the message you want to share. Think of the message, not yourself, and get started.

2. Establish your PURPOSE. Can you narrow down the purpose of your writing into a few words? I ask my public speaking clients to prepare purpose statements before crafting their presentations. The statement mentions why they’re writing (to inform, persuade or entertain), who they’re writing for, and what’s their objective. Once you illuminate the specific purpose of your piece, that purpose will light your way into the rest of your message.

3. Write! That can mean freewriting, letting ideas tumble out without concern for grammar and spelling. It can also mean brainstorming: listing words, ideas, and answers to questions your muse may be asking. Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, believed in “automatic writing,” writing from the subconscious (what he considered channeling the spirits). Just get ideas down, and they will soon begin to take shape.

Hey, don’t look now, but if you followed steps 1-3, you’re writing! You have words on the page. Way to go! The next step will be to structure them into an organized message. After that, you can edit and polish your way to success!

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