How do you deal with writer’s block?
Jon Reisfeld In my past, I have gotten writer's block under one of two conditions: either I was extremely anxious about what I was trying to write/say or the subject matter had some sort of deep emotional connection that, literally, was getting my way. I found several strategies effective. In the first case, the block often occurred because I was trying to get into the writing part of the process too soon, before I either had researched the material enough or organized it adequately. So, the answer was to slow everything down, recognize that I was rushing the process and calmly complete the work I had only partially done. (It's really important for writers to understand that the actual 'writing' of the first draft comes toward the middle to the last third of the writing process. Prior to that point, the writer should be gathering, internalizing and organizing the material. Failing to understand this key reality of writing, I'm convinced, is what causes some writers (me included) to get anxious in the first place. Another way to look at this is that the writing -- which should be the "easy" part, follows all the hard work involved in researching, ruminating over and organizing the material. So, when you're engaged in those phases, you not only are 'writing' you're actually doing the hardest part of the work!) Whenever I followed this prescription and went back to the earlier phases in the process, before resuming the 'writing,' I typically found the problem would resolve itself. The other case -- with the deep, emotional issue -- required me to obtain some detachment and distance from the work that was causing me to get blocked. People use all sorts of diversions at this point. Some hit the track or the tennis courts, go walking or seek other physical activity to take the mind away from the issues. Others go to movies, attend sporting events or watch them on TV. The key is to find something so engrossing that you lose yourself in the moment. Until you can relax enough to get your conscious mind off the block, it will not resolve itself. But once you free up your subconscious mind to sort through the issues while your conscious mind is otherwise engaged, things generally progress rather rapidly. Another thing every writer should do to help "cure" themselves of writer's block is to understand how the concsious and subconscious portions of our minds work. The subconscious mind does all of the creative problem solving necessary to come up with the best plot twists, similies and metaphors for driving fiction and nonfiction prose. We get blocked when we forget this and try and force solutions through hyper focusing our conscious minds on the problem. I recommend the book "Psycho Cybernetics" by Maxwell Maltz, as required reading for every author who really wants to rid him or herself of this plague to creativity and productivity.