“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policeman or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”
This article is one meant to assist the brain-blocked writer.
For now I sit on my floor bed with the glow of a laptop glaring into my eyes, typing a sentence and deleting it. Starting another few words, then deleting those too. I do this for awhile until I finally give up and turn this piece of electronics off, diverting my attention to making a smoothie and stepping into the outside morning light. So it has gone for the last couple weeks.
It always seems my best thoughts are when I am alone on trails with nothing to catch these ideas and words for later writing. Once I do have a chance to put them down, they have evaporated into smoke and been diluted too thin to perceive, floating far way into the air space. Left in my brain are fuzzy half-thoughts. None seeming strong or significant enough to write anything about.
Now then, how can anyone write anything when thoughts are not even halfway finished?
To help with this struggle I have searched for, discovered, created a few different strategies to get the words off the tip of my thoughts and write them tangibly on a page. If you have experienced similar struggle with writer’s block, these strategies may be useful to you as well.
1) Just write.
Many English teachers identify this technique as “free write.” Take your pen, put it to your paper (or fingers to the keyboard more likely) and have at it. Just keep typing and writing your stream of consciousness. Do not erase, do not delete. Eventually it seems there comes a time when you land on a certain piece of thought that has more to express than the others. The whole point of this exercise is to wake up your brain and uncover what is interesting to you at the moment. Once you find that piece of interest, just keep writing about it until you form something other people can read and understand.
2) Pick a quote and follow the thought.
(This is the strategy I took up this morning.) Pick an author, a song artist, something a stranger said to you last week that you keep thinking about, look up inspirational quotes… However you search, what you are looking for is something sticky. What I mean by that is words/a message that catches your attention, makes you tilt your head to the side and murmur, “hmm.” Something that sparks at least a little emotional or thoughtful flame. From there, write about it. Put the quote at the top of the page and start your tangent. Feel free to free write and refine, or dive into developing your own message about the quote. Remember that your are by no means limited to one-liner quotes, or even one quote either.
If you do decide to chose more than one quote you can choose a theme or create your own connection between the two (or three), even if they are seemingly completely different messages.
Read about things that interest you because what you find interesting you will have thoughts about, and probably some feelings too. Read about current events in a field of interest (for me I read about environmental issues, outdoor adventures, latest gear development, health/nutrition and emergency medicine). FInd some facts, and process them into a message for the people. Pick out your dots and clearly draw the lines to connect them. Or read a book and write about a message your find profound
These three ways of starting to write are not the only ones. I am sure the creative souls of the world have found many ways to get the words pouring and their personal messages developed.
The important part of all this is just starting. If you never start then you will never go anywhere; stagnant, stuck, and strangely apathetic. Though if you do dare to start, at least that’s something. At least your effort is being put forth and there is some ignition of intrigue. The more you start developing your words and delivering messages the easier it will become to pick out and formulate these messages, the better you will become at giving them clear shape, and you become further fulfilled because you have created something with your own brain and body to express and give outwardly.
I would like to part you with a joke, told to me the other day by a lovely friend:
What did the paper say to the pen?