Posted by: shorelineclusterpoets/NE Fowl | May 31, 2010

Overcoming the Block: Great advice from myself (from 2008)

While going through some old writings tonight, seeking some old bones for new flesh for the meeting tomorrow, I discovered something that I’d written for my myspace account in June 2008.  It’s perfect to post here, as it was my thoughts on overcoming writer’s block. Sorting through these pages from June 2008 is interesting. Much of what I was writing was typed at work (because there wasn’t much to do) and I was filling pages. Now, my production is much less because my current position is much busier (and better) and when I write at home, it’s shorter. So, these “tips” on overcoming writer’s block are always timely…Writer’s block: How to conquer the blank page
That blank page can mock you, if you can’t find a way to scribble words into its gaping hollow mouth. The blinking cursor on the screen can taunt you, unless your fingers remember how to dance on the keys.

Filling the empty spaces can seem like an impossible task. Writer’s block can be like trying to run while dreaming, that painfully ridiculous slow-motion struggle where the goal never gets closer.

So much has been written on the topic and how to overcome the obstacle. Every writer I’ve ever had the pleasure (or in some rare cases, displeasure) has had a theory on it or a poem/short story derived from struggling against it.

Here’s a few simple ideas that helped me get out of the biggest slump of my writing life:
1 .You really must write every day. As a great Connecticut poet, Charles Rafferty, said in an interview once, “Stabbing at dirt can polish the knife.” In other words, write anything, write everything. Even if you think it’s crap, write it. It will help you and you will benefit.

2. Getting started can be like pushing a rusty old Buick to move through the mud in Missouri in the spring after weeks of rain uphill while an off-key bluegrass band plays scales. Yes, getting started is hell. So how do you do it? Set small goals. Very small ones that are easy to accomplish. This is will give you a sense of pride, that will help you keep pushing. Every journey starts will one step.

3. What’s a small goal? Depends on your larger one, I suppose, or the time you have/want at your disposal. Maybe you want to write a haiku each day (yes, 17 syllables in three lines in vague relationship, often to nature). Maybe only 50 words per day. Whatever the goal is, be sure it’s something that is measurable and achievable daily. Once you get rolling, you increase the goal.
Try to make writing a habitual event like brushing your teeth or taking your meds. It’ll become a repeatable process, almost a compulsion. Trust me, if you’re serious, this is a good thing.

4. Even if you still think it’s all crap, it might not always be. Maybe in a week, a month, a year, a decade, your perception of it will change, or you may find a new use or place for it. And yeah, maybe it will still belong in the trash, but more likely than not it will help you grow and create anew.

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