Writers Building Blocks

Back to Basics

Back to Basics

Stop thinking of yourself as trapped in front of a blank screen. Your fingers refuse to move, your brain refuses to think, your spirit refuses to inspire.

Think of taking each element of your writing project as a block, a building block.

The next time you face a blank page, think beyond the white rectangle on the screen in front of you to the individual words you will type into the space. Many of my clients benefit from changing the platform of their writing from the PC to a pad and pencil or pen. Sometimes the shift from typing to handwriting will crack the block and allow you to move through it with renewed energy. If you begin a project on paper, try switching to the PC for the first draft.

Now What?

Start typing or writing nouns or verbs—leave the adjectives until later, and omit all adverbs for now.

Silence your inner critic, let your fingers do the walking.

Good verbs contain their own modifier, so adverbs are rarely necessary. The words “walk”, “crawl”, “run”, “dash”, “roll”, or “stumble” express movement from one place to another. Each expresses the quality of the motion.

Nouns have varying degrees of specificity, so use the most economical noun for your building block. For instance, the word “horse” covers a wide range of equine animals. Use “Arabian”, “Thoroughbred”, “Percheron”, “Shetland”, instead.

When I was growing up, before digital entertainment on road trips, there were travel books with missing words on each page representing a story. The reader would call out “noun”, “verb”, “adjective”, or more specifically “color”, and fill in the blanks. One book lasted for the longest trips, because the variations in heroes, villains, places, actions, or qualities were endless.

So, How to Bust a Writer’s Block?

My initial answer is the fastest and simplest solution:

If inside, go outside.

If writing fiction, check out the news, factoids, or documentary subject matter.

If writing fact, switch to music, colors, anything visual, abstract, or imaginary.

When all else fails, clean the litter box, pick up the dog poop, change a diaper, or join me in the barn with a shovel and a sense of humor.

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