Friday, August 31, 2012

How to Break Through Writer’s Block Every Time

How to Break Through Writer’s Block Every Time

Most writers experience a moment when they sit at the computer and can’t find the creative spark.  I was one of those writers, sitting and staring at the screen, making no progress. However, out of a distraction, I found a solution.  During one of these non-writing episodes, I was distracted by people talking in another room. To mask the distant yammer, I discovered a technique that not only worked then; it continues to help me jump into the writing mood at any time. I believe this idea could help you in your writing.

The technique is to find some environmental condition that instantly puts you into writing mode. You may be familiar with the famous experiment performed by Ivan Pavlov (circa 1901) where he conditioned dogs to expect food at the ringing of a bell. Once conditioned, they would salivate at the sound of the bell whether or not food was around.

Biographies of other writers often contain an indication that they use a similar technique.  It is sometimes a place and sometimes a sound.  Popular stories (with at least some spark of truth in them) claim that Stephen King had a familiar and favorite desk and J.K. Rowling wrote at a busy coffee shop in Edinburg. At a conference, a writer once described his high-rise office as a single desk facing a blank wall (even though he had a fantastic view from a window.)  Sitting at that desk (often with a Post-it note on the wall stating the intent of the chapter he was working on) is how he focused on his writing task.

In the same way, I’ve found that a familiar noise can coax my brain to move into writing mode. I chose a white noise app on my phone (and a similar on from the web). Whenever I turn on that app and hear the noise (in my case the sound of an old fashioned fan) it makes my brain glands salivate with creative thought.
As an antithesis of this theory, I remember another story of a successful writer that decided he’d go to Hawaii, rent a bungalow overlooking the ocean, and write his next novel. It turns out that the atmosphere was so distracting that he couldn’t even get started.

Each writer has to discover his or her own “writing place” where the elements of creativity and work can coalesce into words on the page.  I’d encourage to experiment with your own place, noise, or atmosphere – who knows, it might be a busy bus, dictating your story while taking a walk, or confining yourself in a closet.  If you can find such a situation, you may be able to make more use of your time and get into the writing mode quickly and consistently.

May your day be full of good words.

For information on my latest story please go to This short story, Takeover: A Writer’s Nightmare, is a romp through the messed-up brain of a creative writer that takes you on a bumpy joy ride with a twisted ending.

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