vernacular-is-my-poison asked: Your post about writer's block got me thinking: how do you change up your approach to writing? Do you have any tips or ideas? Thanks.
Writer’s block is something that all writers have to wrestle with at some point in their lives. Many things can cause writer’s block, and there’s no single way to get rid of it, but if I we all wait for inspiration before we start writing, we may never write at all. So here are the things I do in order to battle writer’s block.
1. Set a deadline. Being a professional copywriter, I’m always working with deadlines. But when it comes to poetry or any form of literary writing, I can work at my own pace. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily translate to getting things done. So sometimes, even if there is no real deadline for writing poems, I set a personal deadline.
I make it a point to write at least three poems per week, though I can’t say that all of them are publishable. But at least I’ll have something I can revise or work with later on, rather than a blank page.
2. Read or listen to others’ works. You cannot be a writer without being a critical reader first and foremost. You need to be able to look at your work and find out if it’s quality writing. You do this by reading others’ works and thinking about what makes them worthy of reading.
Sometimes, when I’m too tired to read, I listen instead to people reading their work. Poetry Foundation sometimes accompanies the poems they publish with an audio reel of someone reading the poem. If this isn’t your thing, I suggest listening to spoken word poetry. I recommend Andrea Gibson, Allen Ginsberg, and Sarah Kay.
By reading and immersing yourself in others’ works, you can get ideas for your next work.
3. Read critical essays or advice for writers. Jane Friedman’s blog offers some fantastic advice for writers. Aside from this, I read literary criticism. I want to learn how others interpret literary text in order to sharpen eye for good art. Here is a list of 50 Places to Find Literary Criticism Online. If you can’t bring yourself to write something new, you can at least sharpen your writing skills.
4. Outline. This works especially well for prose or longer works. Outline your next piece so that you can have a skeleton to build on. This gives your writing direction and it also makes things easier to finish because you can already see how to arrive at the ending.
5. Try a different form or subject matter. Someone once said that there is no such thing as writer’s block. It’s simply the effect of taking the same approach to writing. If you like writing free verse poetry, write fiction. If you like writing fiction, write a poem. If you always speak in the first person, try the third person. If you’re always writing about a boy, write about a girl. If you’re always writing about yourself, write about someone else.
Take the leap and leave your comfort zone. Personally. I’m still trying to break my boundaries, and even though I’m not that successful yet, at least I’m putting things on paper.
I hope these things work for you, as they have worked for me.
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I wish I had taken the time to have read this.