Writers block is a common acquaintance of the freelance writer. Writers may find themselves staring at an empty piece of paper thinking about the words they will need to get started and nothing may come. It can be frustrating but it is something that happens to all Writers. Even the greats like Hemingway, Mailer, Ginsburg and Fitzgerald went through bouts of writers block before penning such great works as The Old Man in the Sea, The Executioner’s Song, Howl and The Great Gatsby, respectively.
Overcoming writers block and finding the words that you need to complete a writing assignment can be done through some simple exercises. These techniques involve brainstorming, a process developed in the 1950s by Madison Avenue advertising executive Alex Osborn that promotes creative thinking around a word or idea. It is used to open up the mind and unclog the brain in order for words to flow again and for the Writer to start or complete their work.
Employing brainstorming techniques to the writings block conundrum, here are five methods that may help you whenever you find you are at a loss for words.
1. Choose a Line from a Published Work and Write Several Different Sentences
This technique can be a fun way to take your mind off of your present piece and get the creative juices flowing. Take a novel from a famous author (any of the ones listed above) or an item from the local newspaper. Pick any sentence and write it down. Rewrite the sentence 2-3 times, using different words but retaining its meaning. The challenge is to create variations on the same sentence. Can you meet the challenge of writing as a great author?
2. Write a Description of Words You See
Go outside to a public space like a park or library and look at the words on traffic signs or book titles. For each word you see, write 5-10 alternate words or synonyms that mean the same as the word you wrote down. Try not to think about the words as much as the process of seeing the word and writing down as many alternatives as you can.
3. Write a Movie Review
Use this technique to focus on the inspiration of others to create a work of art by writing a critique of the worse movie you ever saw. Spend a paragraph or two describing the parts of the movie you disliked, whether it was the development of the plot, acting performance of the leads or condition of the theater you saw the movie in.
The piece does not have to be long but the point of the exercise is to get you to focus on someone else’s creativity. By doing so, it may stir attention to your own efforts and inspire you to resume your work with confidence and a renewed spirit.
4. Be Quiet
Sometimes the best way to address your writers block is by being quiet. Listen to the environment around you and focus on a particular sound. It may be that of a bird or some electronic appliance in your home. Take that sound and write a description about what you hear, how the sound may be described by someone else and the significance of the sound to you. This exercise will force you to apply critical analysis skills but more importantly make you observant about your surroundings and how these surroundings affect your writing.
5. Idea Engine
We have recently integrated the Idea Engine into our platform. The Idea Engine contains 2 great API integrations: Grep Words (very similar to the Google Keyword Tool) and Twitter. While this tool is primarily used for topic generation, it is a great brainstorming tool for those Writers who are having difficulty starting articles or are generating topics for a particular User, and it can be quickly accessed from the Dashboard.
Writer’s block can happen anytime to any Writer, but there are many effective tools and techniques available to get the creative juices flowing and keep Writers doing what they do best: writing.