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Welcome to my blog. Here you will find tips that will help you write books and articles that establish you as the expert in your market.
                   --Lee Pound

June 2018
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How to Get Past Writers Block

Once you’re past the fear of writing, you may still feel like something is keeping you from putting words on paper (or screen). This, for want of a better term, is called “writers block.”

I put it in parentheses because it is a great excuse to not write. After all, those creative juices aren’t working. The words just won’t flow. It’s like a dam is keeping all that wonderful creativity locked up. Everyone’s felt it and almost everyone lets it stop them from writing.

Except the pros.

Every wondered how a professional novelist can write four hours a day, every day, starting at a specific time and writing until they are finished? Ever wonder how reporters meet deadlines every time? I worked in a newsroom for over 15 years and NEVER saw a case of writers block. I never heard anyone so much as utter the phrase. I never saw anyone miss their deadline.

What’s going on here? Is this thing called writers block real? If it afflicts amateurs all the time, why does it not afflict pros?

Here’s my bold statement for the day: There is no such thing as writers block.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve heard me say this before. And as you sit in front of your computer, badly blocked, you wonder what it means.

Remember the question you ask yourself every time you sit down to write? “What am I going to write about today?” When you ask that question, you set yourself up for failure. Here’s what happens: Your brain starts sending up topics and ideas. Your conscious mind says, “No not good enough.” Your creative mind produces and your intellectual mind says no. After a while, your creative mind says, “Okay, you don’t want any of my stuff? Okay, I’m going to sleep.”

Your ideas stop flowing and you look around, asking yourself where all the good ideas are. Sound familiar?

Today is the last day you do this!

I mean it. Remember the problem we talked about yesterday with the fear of writing? You may think you’re past it but you’re not. There’s another step and has to do with the true nature of writers block.

What we call writer’s block is caused by two things.

In fiction, it is not knowing your character well enough to know what that character would do next. You start to write and nothing happens. How can you decide what your character will do next if you don’t know which choice they would make in a given situation? When your character won’t act, go back and interview your character more deeply to find out what he or she is all about. Once you know what the character will do in the situation you’ve placed them in, the rest is easy.

In non-fiction, it’s caused by not knowing your subject well enough. If you don’t know what the next step is, how can write the next chapter? If you don’t know the material well enough, how can you write it? Answer: You can’t.

So here’s the cure for both fiction and non-fiction blocks. Outline your book before you start writing. I know, this sounds way too hard, especially for fiction. Even if you just know the beginning and the end of the story, you have a brief outline. Fill in a few major incidents, outline who your characters are, what they want, how they react to pressure, and what they care about. Don’t worry about descriptions, which won’t help you decide what your character will do. Don’t worry about traits, which are static characteristics that can become active or remain dormant. As long as you know what moves your character, you will be fine.

In non-fiction, decide what your reader knows now, what you want your reader to know when you finish and add in the steps you need to take them there. These steps are your chapters. Then add in the examples and stories that make the material come alive. You will discover where your blank spots are and can fill them in before you start.

The last step before you begin is to stop censoring yourself, like we talked about earlier. Here’s the problem: Most of the ideas your mind sends up are good enough, maybe even very good. However, your conscious censor never lets them get onto the page. Tell that censor to take a vacation and let those creative mind products out and onto the page.  You’ll be amazed.

Now you are ready to write. And just like the pros, you’ll never again be blocked.

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4 comments to How to Get Past Writers Block

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lee Pound, Joe Cheray. Joe Cheray said: How to Get Past Writers Block http://bit.ly/b2niCu […]

  • joecheray

    the same can be said for blogging too

    I am a person however who writes best without too much structure I will compile some notes and that is as far as I go with any kind of written plan of action when I sit down to write a blog post. Even with college papers I was that way I just researched, made some notes, and away I went. About the only thing I am a stickler for is making sure to get it right when citing my sources or linking to someone and/or their site.

  • Hi Joe,
    You're right. In fact this applies to any kind of writing. By the way, your outline can be a detailed written outline or just a few words in your mind. In fact in that post I had several ideas in my mind and knew what order I wanted to cover them in, then just wrote. When I write novels, I know where I am going and what my characters will do and who they are but don't do a written outline. However, a friend of mine wrote a 120-page outline for a 200-page novel. The important thing is to find the method that works for you and then stick to it.

  • Organic Gardening

    […] How to Get Past Writers Block […]

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