Writer’s Block

Ken Harrison publisher Seventh Window

Ken Harrison
Seventh Window Publications

Writers block, is it a real thing, or is it just an excuse to waste time? To me, this is one of those never ending questions that will never be properly answered. I look at writer’s block as something close to not being able to sleep. Your mind is racing with ideas all the time, but when you sit down you can’t seem to come up with anything you like, or sit down to write and you hate everything that springs to the keyboard from your fingertips. It’s frustrating because you know you have a book or story inside of you somewhere, but how do you get it out? Something is blocking your ability to do just that.  It’s as elusive as sleep to an insomniac.

So, how can get past the blockage and actually write something useful with your time? For me, the key is learning that it’s okay to write crap for  the first draft. I mean, you’re going to re-write it anyhow. Allow yourself to be imperfect knowing that you’re going to go back and edit what you’ve just done. It also helps to know that nobody other than you will actually read the very first draft.

Sure, that’s all well and good, but you’re having trouble even getting that far. What do you do? The answer is as easy as setting your alarm for twenty minutes. That’s right, use the alarm on your phone the one by your nightstand and set it for twenty minutes. Once the alarm is set, put your fingers to the keyboard and start typing. You are not allowed to stop until the twenty minutes is over. If you’re still going when the alarm sounds, do not stop. The worse thing you can ever do to yourself is stop writing when the going is good. Continue. The phone rings, ignore it. They can leave a message or send you a text message.

Set a daily word count. Tell yourself that you can’t take the rest of the day off until you’ve reached that word count. Remember, it’s about getting the first draft out. Once you have a first draft, you have something to mold and shape. Think of it as your clay.

Another tip is to block out a set period of time every day to write. This will be your sacred time, keep it that way. Do not allow your friends or family to ruin this time for you. If you have to, lock yourself in. Turn off the ringer on your phone, ignore the doorbell. Feel free to play music that echoes the major theme of your story and keeps you in your story.

Above all, do not discuss your story or talk about it until it is finished.  This sounds silly, but a good way to kill a good idea is to talk about it.  If people ask what you’re writing about, tell them it’s too soon to talk about it. They won’t understand, but they’re not writers and simply won’t get it anyhow.

So go and regurgitate your first draft! When its done, revel in the lack of cohesion in the storyline, poor word choices and incoherent sentence structure. Read it through once, then begin molding it into a story that people will want to read. This takes time and is where the real magic of writing takes place.


  1. Pingback: Getting past writer’s block « Jen Wright's Blog

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