Although I’ve written at least one article about getting past writer’s block before, I don’t think that I’ve mentioned this particular technique before. It’s a slightly old-fashioned technique and it might not work for everyone, but it could be worth trying nonetheless.
Well, when I was trying to write a chapter of “Liminal Rites” a couple of days ago, I found myself facing a moderately bad case of writer’s block. I’d started writing the chapter twice and, each time, I deleted it after a couple of paragraphs because it was…. quite frankly… terrible. I felt blocked and unenthusiastic. I just couldn’t start the chapter properly. The hot weather wasn’t helping either. I was stuck.
So, after a third failed attempt at starting the chapter, I closed WordPad, put a sci-fi DVD into my computer and picked up my sketchbook. After a few minutes of watching the DVD, I thought about trying to write the beginning of the chapter in my sketchbook. Then, as I half-expected, the chapter suddenly started to flow out onto the page. I only had to write the first half of it before I stopped feeling blocked and was able to type the whole thing fairly easily after the DVD had finished.
I’m not entirely sure why this works, but sometimes writing things the old-fashioned way rather than typing them can be a way of getting around writer’s block.
In my case, it’s probably because, until about the age of twenty or so, I almost always used to handwrite my fiction before typing it – so, doing things the way I used to (and the sense of nostalgic familiarity that came with it) might have helped me to feel more confident as a writer. As such, I’m not really sure if it will work for that many people – but I thought I’d mention it nonetheless.
I don’t know, there’s just something… intuitive about writing fiction the old fashioned way, which can be useful if you feel blocked. Of course, if you currently prefer and have always preferred typing to writing, then this technique probably won’t work.
But, even if you feel fairly neutral and indifferent about hand-writing things, then it might be worth trying it – since it may help you to see your writing in a slightly different way.
Plus, obviously, it’s a totally different experience in physical terms. Instead of bashing something out on a keypad, it flows quickly from the end of a pen. Likewise, seeing your writing in stark letters on a screen, looking exactly like it will do when it’s published (either online or, if you’re lucky, in print) is a very different experience to seeing it in your own distinctive (and, in my case, almost illegible) handwriting in a private notebook which won’t be published anywhere.
These are fairly subtle differences, but even subtle things can be important when you’ve got writer’s block.
Yes, for practical and time reasons, I usually type my articles and fiction directly rather than drafting them by hand first. And, after quite a few years of practice, I can type at a reasonable speed (unlike a few years ago). But, still, sometimes doing things the old-fashioned way can get my creativity flowing in a way that doing things the modern way just doesn’t. Who knows? It might work for you too.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂