The term Writer’s Block implies hefty imagery. So why not break it down with equally weighty swings by 9 heavy hitting, hammer-like tools that will melt, chip, dent, smash and maybe destroy what stands in the way of your getting down to writing? Or you can start in a more subtle way by nibbling at it…
Tool#1 – Go fishing
When I was a kid, 5 or 6 years old, I got to go fishing with my grandpa to Lake Michigan. I noticed every time we went there were always a lot of other fishermen lined up along the pier.
I was concerned.
So one outing I asked my grandfather what would happen to all these fisherman if the lake ran out of fish.
He told me to look out at the lines along the pier and wait for one to ‘twitch’ with a bite and see what happened to the other fisherman. As one rod moved another reeled in and recast.
It’s not how many fish, my grandfather said. There only has to be one nibbling to make everybody keep fishing.
When writers think there are no more ideas, the well is dry, and not a single original thought can ever enter their minds again the only thing to do is write something.
Write down random thoughts, little images, descriptions of things in the room or outside a window. Scribble away until one catches on.
Throw out a line.
Its not how many ideas are out there. It’s that there only has to be one that could be a story, or part of a story, not today but one day. It only has to be a nibble to break off a piece of that block so you can move on.
If you are not content to nibble, you might be the kind of writer who regularly takes giant bites out of a project and creates the kind of Writer’s Block that needs a bigger tool.
Tool# 2 – Stop digging
I once worked with a writer who kept postponing our coaching sessions because his first draft needed more research. The research was on the Irish Potato Famine.
I finally had to ask him, how much do you need to know about a potato famine when only one character in his story was Irish, and that character had never been to Ireland.
But he just kept digging. The hole got deeper and wider. The last time I heard from him was in a post card. You guessed it. He took a trip to Ireland for more research.
If your Writer’s Block looks like this, too much research not enough story, it’s not the ‘block’ that needs investigating but the hole you dug avoiding your story that needs filling.
Yes, research is important to any good story. But you can split up your time between research and main story letting each one feed the other. You’ll know when the research ‘hole’ gets too deep. It’ll feel like you’ve become more of an archeologist than a writer.
One thing you may have in common with someone who gets excited about ancient stones in the middle of nowhere is the next tool. This one is for the writer who faces the blank page as though it were just that, a big piece of stone waiting to be carved. Maybe too big…
Tool#3 – Chip away
I have a friend in Chicago who is a sculptor.
He rented a studio that was two stories high in an industrial district in order to maneuver the 10-15 foot blocks of granite or marble he would sculpt into magnificent forms.
Any story is a block of granite in its idea stage. An idea is only a complete story in the writer’s mind. In reality, it’s a blank page.
The biggest block is getting the idea out of the writer’s head and onto the page. The same way the sculptor must pick up a chisel and make that first tap.
Make the first tap. A piece of stone falls and the image is freed.
The first words are written on the page and the story is born.
Think of that granite block dissolving into a thing of beauty, think of Michelangelo chiseling David out of a block of formless stone.
Formidable, yes, and we have the statue of David in its entire splendor.
Chip by chip.
All art is created in much the same way. Artists start with blank canvases and create a painting brush stroke by brush stroke. Images emerge.
Stories emerge in the same way as a writer pieces together images and looking at art can be another way to beat writers block.
NEXT: 9 Tools to Break Up Writers Block – Part Two
Check back soon to see the next installment of this article (Tools #4, #5, and #6).