by Tyler Garrett
If you’re reading this, then you’re not writing.
And if you’re not writing, then you might have writer’s block, which is, well, when a writer is blocked in his or her attempts to write—when a writer’s mental capabilities simply refuse to generate logical strands of thought, either temporarily or seemingly permanently (usually between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. (school nights)).
Since you’ve stumbled upon this blog post, you might be wondering how other people overcome writer’s block—how they hurdle this intimidating obstacle and sprint triumphantly to the finish line. (I wonder why people sprint in general, but hey, maybe there’s a blog post on that too.)
When I experience writer’s block before, during, or after the 9–2 frame, I have a number of options up my sleeve. If I don’t have sleeves, then I swap my tank-top for a shirt. (Voila, options!) For the purpose of this blog post, however, I’ll impart my one, go-to piece of advice:
The Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain in 450, and you’re asked to analyze the linguistic and cultural impact on the native Britons. You remember hearing about this in the lecture; you remember glancing at some words in your textbook and getting a more thorough understanding on Wikipedia. You’ve typed your name and “Think of a More Creative Title” for a title, and you’ve been staring at a blinking cursor for ten to fifteen minutes, but with the smell of bacon downstairs (at 6:30 p.m.?) and the foreboding reminder to start on an essay for Women’s Studies, among many other thing, you are simply experiencing WRITER’S BLOCK.
What do you do?
The words aren’t coming. You know they’re up there, but they’re not coming out. Like a scared cat under a sofa, they seem frustratingly, rebelliously locked away until, I don’t know, you stop caring so much. But you need to care; this paper’s due in a few hours.
Again, what do you do?
As the bold heading suggests, just start writing. Yep. Just start typing the words as they come. Don’t judge, don’t filter. Just start clacking on the keys, no matter how ridiculous (or not) the results are.
Literally, just start typing any random assortment of words, because the simple act of typing words actually starts to clear up the debilitating writer’s block. Imagine a bunch of words bottle-necking in your brain. You can stare at the backed-up words, or you can start to pull them out one at a time until a nice, steady flow of words starts to develop.
I’m sitting here in the Wilkinson Center and I’m writing on my laptop and this girl just sat down in front of me and she’s wearing brown boots. I’m wearing brown boots too! How awesome! It must be brown-boots day! So, about the Celtic Briton people in Britain… Hmm… What about them… Well, I guess they weren’t too thrilled about being killed and pushed out of their lands.
That took twenty seconds to type (and, being an editor, I took twelve seconds to correct my spelling). But look! Words on paper! And now that my mind is exercised in rapidly generating words, it’s now in a much better position to start writing academically, at least much more so than sixty seconds ago.
So, if you’re experiencing writer’s block, just start typing words. If there’s nothing to salvage from your rushed writing, delete it and try being more methodical. The point is to just start writing, and as you do so, the writer’s block will eventually erode and blissfully float down the mind drain.