Inspiration Block

5 Tips for the Blocked Writer

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Campers and sisters, Sofia and Lucia, worked through writer’s block last week at Creative Writing Camp.

Better known as “Writer’s Block,” what I prefer to call “Inspiration Block” is what happens when a whole bunch of nothingness takes over a writer’s mind. Sometimes a project is at hand but the words just won’t come.  In other instances, a writer simply wants to write and is empty of ideas.  Instead of staring at a blank page, I recommend the following strategies to spark writing inspiration:

1) Read

A good reader is not always a good writer, but a good writer is almost always a good reader.  It’s not plagiarism to get ideas from another writer as long as you don’t copy them word for word.  Do not be ashamed to pick up a book or look up an article that touches on a topic or uses a style that interests you. After all, art is often art reborn. 

2) List

Making lists is liberating. No grammar worries. Non sequiturs abound. Knowing the list is simply a prompt for a project and in no way requires perfection.  Looking for something to list about?  Here’s a two-fold list: On one side of a page, write down everything you love most and on the other side write a list of pet peeves.  Passion stirs the mind.

3) Explore Your Senses

If they’re all in working order, you have five beautiful senses that let you take in the world in each moment.  Use them to your advantage and consider doing so non-traditionally.  What does a song smell like?  What does an inedible object taste like?  What does your lunch sound like… what would it say if it could talk?  Free yourself from trying to be too literal.  You could, but it’s not necessary to put a sandwich up to your ear to hear it. 

4) Take a Walk

When you get your body moving out in fresh air you supply more oxygen to your brain, which in turn allows you to think more clearly.  I’m not a scientist, but it’s science.  If you’re willing, you could even take this one step further and go for a run or exercise in another way that you love.  My personal favorite is yoga.

5) People Watch

This often comes when you execute Tip 4, Take a Walk.  Watching people is fascinating.  We are such complex, predictable and yet unpredictable creatures.  Focus on just one or two people or take in as many strangers as you can.  You will likely find yourself trying to figure out everyone.  You will make up their stories.  You will justify their appearances, their words, their actions.  And you will have plenty to write about.

Elsa Guenther
Creative Writing Specialist

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