Sunday, March 13, 2016

Dealing with Writer's Block

The subject was writer's block and how to overcome it. It can be a problem when you're on deadline and the right nut-graph just isn't working, no matter how it's revised. Or the wording just isn't coming to you. Or the message of the content simply isn't there.

There are so many explanations for each of these situations. Maybe you're trying too hard on that nut-graph. Maybe you should write it as you would an elevator pitch. Incidentally, write as you think without trying to revise as you do so. That is, write spontaneously. Once you're done simply spray-wording, go back and review what's there. Or just take a few minutes to step away from the thing and then return to it with a refreshed perspective. No, a few days, a few weeks, are simply not what I'm talking about.

There are many reasons for writer's block. Sometimes it's a matter of your brain is trying to process too much information all at one time. Your mind keeps jumping from one subject to another as it darts from one piece of the picture you're trying to paint to another that isn't associated with the first. Then you find yourself with the unenviable task of immediately trying to make to two communicate with one another when in actuality they are quite disparate. You find you're trying to sort through the chaos and there simply is no sense to any of it.

Meanwhile, your fingers are producing little to nothing. Maybe this is the time to simply write down the thoughts. It isn't necessary to make a formal list. Just write down the topics that are popping into your head. Once you've got a good list of those ideas, they can be massaged by organizing them into a logical sequence. And then those bullets can become paragraph headers so that both you and your reader can more easily follow the the train of thought and the message. Remember, it's the message that you ultimately want to communicate. Those sentences are merely little pieces of the message.

At other times, it's a matter of the words simply not coming to you at all.

Just write. Then put it aside. Come back to the content a day or so later and take a peek at it just to see what spilled out. It could be there's something salvageable in all of that stuff. If not, it was a great lesson in journaling. Better yet, you kept the momentum going for putting the words to paper. You were productive. You may even have a list of topics to write about at another time. At least you got those words saved somewhere and you created several starting points.

Another stumbling block is knowing the definition of the word. You want to be absolutely certain it's the right word. You find yourself doing more research about a single, insignificant (in comparison) word instead of writing the message. Or you've used the same word so many times that even you are getting bored with it. It's starting to sound contrived. Is your thesaurus handy?

You know, writing is like a job. You don't want a throng of traffic constantly interrupting you while you're trying to concentrate on what you're doing. So it is with niggling other stuff. Picking up the dry cleaning, paying that bill on time, vacuuming the floors, finding the coins to do the laundry, the appointments that need to be kept - for the entire week. Some of those can be put onto a page in your date minder. Some of them can wait until your work time is over and it's time to take a break. Some of it isn't going to be resolved in the minutes that are distracting you from your current task. Unlike a tsunami, the consequences of ignoring them will not be fatal. So let them wait and simply focus on your "write" time.

Maybe the answer to the situation is to give yourself a writing time allowance - so many minutes (maybe two hours) at one sitting and then off to handle some of those other things until a little later, when you can return to what you were doing with a fresher mind.

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