WRITER’S BLOCK HAS BEEN IMMORTALIZED in story and in no fewer than 33 movies, and is the threat lurking behind every time-sucking exercise and writing prompt. And by the way, you’ve got writer’s block if you are merely exercising and not writing with intent. And if you don’t, you will; I’ve seen people so sure they cannot give up their pre-assigned, writing-book-provided prompts that they shake, making me think writer’s block is the new crack. Either way, just say no, and read on.
Quite simply, overcoming writer’s block means that you do not know what to say next. Here is the tried-and-true fix for that:
• Do a little research
• Get some creative inspiration
• Get a writing lesson
• Use the calendar
Do a little research. How to combat writer’s block? Call your sister. She knows the name of your neighbor’s dog – you know, the one who bit you when you were a kid. Get yourself to your local historical society. I did, and found out my house had been a speakeasy during Prohibition. The Number 1 way to combat writer’s block is to do research, which also means you’ve got to check your facts, even on a story that is your own. For this, you must always have on hand a set of reliable reference books. Let me guide you through what those books should be.
Get some creative inspiration. Writers react. We hear things, read things, see things and we react. If you want to beat writer’s block, my advice is to get some exposure to the wider world, and react. After reading about the newest medical studies pertaining to your family’s inherited illness, you can respond and maybe help shape public policy. And why not? You’re an expert. Need some creative inspiration this very moment? I’ve got a whole category of stories devoted to it.
Get a Writing Lesson. Maybe you just want a free, weekly lesson from a well-published author. It’s not too much to ask. I’ve got you covered. Every week I post writing lessons from the kind of writer you usually have to listen to NPR to hear. Subjects include when to fictionalize your memoir; how to recall details from your life; what to share; how to tell the truth; the truth and consequences of writing memoir, and much more. Beating writer’s block can be as simple as getting an education. I love writing lessons so much that I’ve devoted an entire category on my website to them; here’s its archive.
Use the Calendar. Another great way to kill writer’s block is in the simplicity of the calendar. Using it, you can look months ahead, choose a deadline for one of the year’s high emotional holy days and write, edit and send the piece on time to be heard on public radio or to be published in a newspaper, magazine or online journal. And because I want you to succeed, I created an interactive calendar that provides dates and links those dates to blog posts, public radio essays I’ve written, and various other suggestions on how to make the calendar your new best friend.
Want to fight writer’s block? Now you know how.
Want to know more about my approach to memoir writing? Come and read my Memoir Manifesto. After that, I’ve got a page devoted to how to get started writing memoir. And don’t miss my resources – products I have designed to help you get to work.