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DEFEATING WRITER'S BLOCK

As far as I'm concerned there is no such thing as writer's block. It is a phrase that has been devised to briefly attempt to explain why a writer suddenly cannot write - write easily and effectively.

Your mind is playing tricks on you. There is a built-in device in the mind that doesn't want you to succeed at what it is you do. The reasons for that are too numerous to explain and is not needed to counteract the condition. Actually, there is no such condition as writer's block. What there is, is a preconceived term for something that happens when you're stuck and can't move ahead to tell your story. It appears as if you can't think clearly. You believe there is an obstruction that won't allow you to move ahead. Whatever you want to call it.

I will now explain how you can get rid of that problem - how you can move ahead to complete the piece of writing; the story, the play, the term paper, the thesis, the novel - or what ever it was you were creating. This is not to say, that what I offer will make you a great and creative writer. What I have to say is that this article will help you move ahead - to write without finding yourself stuck with no where to go.

There was a time when I also was confronted with this so-called "writer's block" and thought that was the end of my writing career. I went to the library and book store to see if there were any books that could explain and help me overcome this problem. All I could find was material that laid out steps to plow through - six steps, ten steps, fifteen steps, an entire volume on steps to defeat writer's block plus works on sentence structure, how to plot a story, structure of a novel, play writing, short story construction and dozens of works that attempted to explain how to write and how to avoid getting stuck on a piece on which you were working. My shelves are loaded with some of those fine works, none of which, however, confront this simple problem with a simple solution. I eventually found the solution myself - and here it is.

I write plays and once in a while I try my hand at writing film scripts. I've had a few plays staged and had twenty or so television scripts produced. There was a time I could sit down to write something and move from day to day without any major hitches. The only problem I had was at those moments when you have to stop, review what you've written up to that point, and consider what you are going to write next. That's the normal writing procedure. At least, every writer I've ever talked to about the process of writing has explained it that way. That includes me. You know the story you want to write. You start on the journey of the story, and though you encounter numerous side roads and cross roads, eventually you get where you're going. People and situations develop that weren't there when you started but were picked up as you went along. It's the most wonderful process in which to become involved - a world of your own making. When you're away from it, even though you sometimes are afraid you won't be able to continue successfully, strangely enough, you do. You want to get back into the world you are creating. Ahhh, what a wonderful feeling when you complete a work - combined with the feeling that you may never be able to accomplish this great feat again. But, lo and behold, you do. Again and again. Until one day you are suddenly struck with a blast from hell - the so-called WRITER'S BLOCK!

I was suddenly stuck. Right in the second act of a play I was attempting to complete.

Try as I could, I couldn't move ahead. The characters were all okay. They spoke dialogue that fit the situation - but they were stuck in place. I couldn't move them to the next step. I couldn't determine what the next step was. I tried it this way, and that way. I crossed the street, tried running straight up the block - ran to the top of a building, down to a basement cellar. Nothing seemed to work. I couldn't move ahead. I admonished myself. I wasn't a writer. I was a hack who had been lucky so far and now, this was the end. I decided to drop the project and start working on something else.

I began to write a novel, the idea for which had been languishing in back of my mind for years. Two chapters into it, once again I became stuck. But I kept at it for days, weeks, months. Nothing! A dribble here, a line there. Nothing! How about a short story? Two pages and then BOOM! The barrier. I had "writers block", as it was called, and my career as a writer was over. I started looking for serious jobs in the outside world. I called it outside because after spending so much of my life writing, I felt that that had been my world, my life. And now, here I was thrust out into a world about which I knew very little - only what I had observed from the safety of my inner sanctum. I went out and found a full time day job as a stock broker. Wow! What a let down. But it paid the bills and fed the family. However, there was one thing I couldn't prevent myself from doing. That was to sit in front of the computer in the evening and continue to scribble a few lines about this or that. However, nothing happened. After three or four lines, I'd give up. Dump it and go watch the tube.

One evening, the shows on the tube left a great deal to be desired. I was bored stiff. Something on the screen - a line spoken by an actor reminded me of an event in my life. I laughed at my own recollection and sat down at the computer - brought up Word and started jotting down the situation as I recalled it. It was a humorous event. I wrote stream-of-consciousness --- whatever came into my mind. As I was writing about this particular incident, it reminded me of another event, and yet another. I wrote and wrote and suddenly I found myself thinking back to the situation that created my original "block." That part in the play that erected a steel barrier.

It was gone.

I suddenly knew what had to happen next in the play. I brought the play up in the computer and by three in the morning I completed the first draft of a play that I had started three years earlier when I stopped writing because of "writer's block."

A few days later, I checked out a story I had left uncompleted. Gave it a quick read and without missing a beat, sat down and finished it. Since then I have done the same thing, over and over again.

When I reach an impasse - where my mind won't tell me what to write next - what happens next - I stop. Pull up a clean page and then just START writing stream-of-consciousness style. That is, I write about what ever is on my mind at the moment. How I feel. How I feel about people and places I've been to and seen and spoke with today or yesterday, last week - or when ever.. This will lead me to other thoughts about which I write. If by then I haven't relaxed my mind to allow me to continue writing easily on my blocked project, I just keep on writing about today, yesterday, last week, last year - or whatever and wherever, all of those events and whatever they lead me into. Eventually this process brings my mind around to the piece upon which I was working. Soon I am back into the story, finding what I need to move ahead to the next step.

So the answer to so-called writer's block is not stopping, but instead, START, START writing in a stream-of-consciousness manner. Just keep writing. It's analogous to greasing the skids a bit, or making sure your car engine has enough oil in it to operate smoothly - for if there isn't enough oil, the engine, like your mind, will freeze - it gets stuck.

So what is it we're talking about?

1. Writer's Block - Baloney

2. Stop - write stream-of-consciousness about what you know: What's on your mind now - today, people you met, people you know, things that happened - funny stuff - sad stuff - whatever you feel. It could be the worst language in the world or the stupidest thing that has ever coursed through your mind. Put it down.

3. Let your mind lead you - not you lead your mind - let it write whatever comes into your head and eventually it will point you to the right direction and merge with what you were working on.

Suddenly you will find, there is no such thing as writer's block. You simply have to un-clutter your mind - get a few things out of the way so you can move ahead.

Like anything else, it takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it and use it, you will have that wonderful feeling of finding something you had lost and given up on ever finding. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to move ahead.

Try it. If it doesn't work, try it again until it does work. It worked for me and for a lot of other people I know.

Let me know if this program works for you by clicking here.

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Copyright 2012 by Gene Lesser