Unblocking Writer’s Block

I enjoy blogging…really I do.  But sometimes, like now, I get writer’s block and can’t think of anything meaningful to say.  It’s frustrating, to say the least, but even worse when I’m staring at a blank screen trying to find the perfect opening sentence for an annual report shareholder letter, press release or earnings conference call script, especially when a client is awaiting my draft.Writer's Block 3

For someone who spends the majority of her day writing, writer’s block is like the kiss of death.  So it got me thinking about the best ways to unclog the brain.  A few ideas follow, but I’d love to hear your best advice in the comments section below.

  • Go for a walk, or just step away from your screen for a few minutes.  Focusing your mind on something other than putting pen to paper could free your mind and spur creativity.
  • Look at examples of work similar to what you need to write.  Sometimes seeing what someone else has done is enough to get that first word on a blank sheet of paper.
  • Brainstorm with colleagues.  Someone not as close to the task might come up with some good content to set you back on course.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Get that first draft going and worry about fine tuning it later.  Even those who have won writing awards don’t get it perfectly right the first time.  You’re in good company.
  • Try to understand why you’re blocked.  Purdue University recommends several “cures” for different types of writer’s block, including utilizing an outline to organize your thoughts.
  • In the words of John Steinbeck, as told by George Plimpton, “Pretend that you’re writing not to your editor or to an audience or to a readership, but to someone close, like your sister, or your mother, or someone that you like.”  This may help take away the pressure you’re putting on yourself.

Well, twenty minutes later and my writer’s block appears to be gone.  All it took was following the advice of Barbara Kingsolver, a popular author who is slated to receive the Library of Virginia Lifetime Achievement Award in October.  “Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.”

– Laurie Berman, lberman@pondel.com

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