Blast Through Writer’s Block

“Getting started,” say Sam Deep and Lyle Sussman, “may be the most difficult task when you sit down to write.” Luckily for us, their book Yes, You Can! 1,200 Inspiring Ideas for Work, Home, and Happiness (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1996), 101, includes nine ideas to kickstart the process.

One or more of their techniques can help you overcome writer’s block:

  • Ask yourself why you are writing this report, letter, or chapter. What do you want the reader to do or think about as a result of reading your work? As soon as you have the answer to this question, take a crack at an opening.
  • Skim paragraphs in a magazine, newspaper, or book for an inspiring literary device.
  • Set aside a half hour each day for writing as a means of reducing the overall intimidation factor.
  • Write first drafts freely and quickly with little concern for punctuation, spelling, neatness, or grammar.
  • Construct a storyboard. As ideas about your project come to you, jot them down on 3 × 5 cards and tack them on a wall. As you begin to see relationships among the cards, change their positions. As soon as the shape of your approach becomes clear, start writing.
  • Talk about your project with a friend or into a tape recorder. The more you talk, the more the ideas in your head will arrange themselves into a pattern in your mind’s eye.
  • Place “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how” down the left margin of a page, spaced about an inch apart. Write in the answers; then rearrange them into an outline you can work from.
  • Don’t try to compose the introduction until the rest of the piece is written.
  • Write the conclusion first; then work on getting there.
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