As a writer, I personally don’t believe in writer’s block, but some writers do. In the past, I thought I suffered from this problem because I was unable to write something related to my creative aspirations. Writer’s block is nothing more than a cognitive distortion that can interfere with a writer’s creativity, allowing my fear to place limitations upon my abilities. I overcame this challenge when I started teaching my creative writing course Write Here! Write Now! In my opinion, there are three ways to overcome writer’s block: 1) believing you can write, 2) developing a writing plan, and 3) engaging in writing.
1. Believing You Can Write
The first lesson I taught as a as a creative writing instructor was instilling the belief to my students they could write. Before any person wants to accomplish a goal, he or she needs to have belief. An individual can possess all the talent to write a New York Times best seller but if that person lacks belief, then talent is meaningless. One of my childhood heroes growing up was the boxer Muhammad Ali. The general public remembers Ali for the quote “I am the greatest,” but there was a second part to that quote that’s often excluded: “I am the greatest! I said that before I even knew I was!” Before he began training, Muhammad Ali had to believe in himself or he would’ve been defeated prior to throwing one punch. I encouraged my students to believe they are writers regardless of their accomplishments and/or desires by repeating to themselves and also writing the words I AM A WRITER in their journals until they gained self-confidence to write.
2. Developing a Writing Plan
Once belief has been established, the next step is to develop a writing plan. It’s important that planning occurs before actually writing. Some beginning writers who possess tremendous enthusiasm may find themselves overwhelmed and quit doing so if they start recklessly writing without creating a plan. For example, a runner training to participate in his or her first marathon doesn’t start running 26.2 miles on the first training day. He or she designs a training schedule that incorporates the availability and the frequency of runs per week to increase strength and endurance to compete in the event. Writers need to have a plan that will provide them with the structure to write and develop their craft. I made a commitment to myself to write a minimum of 1,000 words every day between 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. from Monday to Friday and any time on weekends. Sometimes I may not achieve my minimum but I write something, anything, even if it’s my name. My schedule provides me with the structure I need to accomplish my daily writing goal. Whenever I work on any literary projects, I create handwritten outlines to assist me with structure. An example of one of my outlines can be found at the following link: http://behind-the-book.blogspot.com/2007/08/marathon.html. Having a schedule and structure enables me to achieve my writing goals, which is the perfect segue to my final point: engaging in writing.
3. Engaging in Writing
Now that belief is present and a plan has been created, it’s time to do the work. Writers need to be committed towards pursuing their creative endeavors. There will be some days when a writer doesn’t feel like writing, and that’s natural. There will be some days when a writer doesn’t know what to say, and that’s also natural. I’ve experienced both feelings in the past, but I wrote anyway. Another quote from Muhammad Ali that I like and is applicable to this point: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” Every writer suffers at some point in his or her literary journey to find something to write about. Another exercise I taught in my writing class is having my students take a piece of paper and writing the words I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY on the first line. Using that statement as a writing prompt, I made them write about their insecurities about writing until they completed the entire page without repeating the same prompt on every line. Writers will identify and eliminate any negative thoughts that interfere with their flow. I’ve employed this technique, too, with my own writing and discovered myself becoming more relaxed and creative as I wrote with ideas appearing inside my mind.
If you have any suggestions or recommendations as to how you overcame writer’s block, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you so much for reading my blog post.