Beat Writer’s Block Now!

Stray Thoughts: Reflections From The Lighter Side Of AdServices


Hey, get a load of me – I’m writing again! Just seconds ago I wrote the feisty, fear-nothing heading “Beat Writer’s Block Now!”

Riding a wave of fresh momentum, I followed that heading up with the rousing opening sentence “Hey, get a load of me – I’m writing again!” Some bloggers and Tweeters pounced on the line, calling it “self indulgent,” “childish,” and “a desperate cry for attention.” Let them snipe all they want. I wrote it, I’m glad I wrote it, and by writing it, I’ve sent this powerful message to the vile nemesis of writer’s everywhere: “Writer’s Block is a Big Fat Crock!”

Wow. Okay. I have to admit something. A few minutes went by after I wrote “Writer’s Block is a Big Fat Crock!” and before I wrote the words you’re reading now. Okay, 20 minutes. That’s the problem with writer’s block: It can sneak up on you. In fact, it can strike even after you’ve written something as rhythmic and triumphant as “Writer’s Block is a Big Fat Crock!” It can strike especially after you’ve written something as rhythmic and triumphant as “Writer’s Block is a Big Fat Crock!”

Always on alert for a hint of weakness, writer’s block throws itself into your stream of thought and foils the flow of words the moment you pause to appreciate something you’ve written.

Hmmmm,” that devil writer’s block whispers in your ear. “Nice piece of writing. But now what? You don’t have a clue where you’re going with this and you’ve managed only one graceful paragraph in a 12-page parade of butt-ugly prose.”

Against this sneering, taunting tide of insults, there is only one steadfast response a struggling writer can give to summon the strength to push on: “I return now to my story already in progress. Right after I stare out this window for half an hour.”

To hush the hostile rants of writer’s block and jump-start your creative juices, here are three rock-solid tips I’ve developed in my years as a professional writer and spokesmodel for the National Badminton Association.

Tip # 1: You can relieve the paralyzing pressure of coming up with a great opening by skipping to the middle of your story and just start writing. Example:

By late afternoon the bees were swarming, curious about our presence so close to
their nest. We instinctively ran in a zigzag pattern, which tired us out so the
bees could more easily sting us repeatedly in the face and neck.

See? This pretty much stinks as a piece of writing, but at least it’s not the beginning of the story and you’re not staring at a blank page.

Tip # 2: By thinking conversationally, you can build your story line by line through the give-and-take of dialogue. Example:

“Wear this windbreaker,” Angie suggested.

“It’s 86 degrees,” Nick protested.

“You’ll be sitting in the shade, it’s cooler there,” Angie explained.

“I don’t need it,” Nick challenged.

“Put it on,” Angie prodded.

“I don’t want to,” Nick persisted.

Once again, a pretty pointless display of writing, but you’re off and running with no writer’s block in sight. (Plus, things are heating up nicely between Angie and Nick.)

Tip # 3: When the right words are hard to come by, go overboard and write with wild abandon. Example:

The hounds of ruin are at my door; my enemies gather to plot the final assault. Even now as I gaze out my window a bloodthirsty throng has toppled the giant statue of me riding my mustang (convertible). It might as well be my heart they have broken into so many tiny pieces. Oh how gleefully they dance among the rubble!

I could go on, but since that piece was intended to be a lighthearted look at hosting a dinner party, I’ll need to scale back on the graphic imagery of political anarchy and write something giddy about honey mustard salmon.

Please understand – I’m not complaining. I like writing. And even though I know there will be times when writer’s block will creep into my head, kidnap my spontaneity and put a freeze on my imagination, I know that my moment of inspiration will come. And then, with full humility and wonder, I will use my God-given gifts to write something true and memorable and alive with meaning. Or, failing that, something rhythmic and triumphant like “Writer’s Block is a Big Fat Crock!”

Hey, get a load of me – I’m writing again!

Alan Williamson
Senior Copywriter
AdServices Inc.

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