How I Avoid Writer’s Block

Someone asked me about what I do when I have writer’s block. They wanted to know if I have any tricks that might be helpful for them. I don’t know that I have ever had writer’s block, but maybe a few of these things might be helpful for people who do.

  • Bank Ideas: Whenever an idea strikes me, I immediately capture it. It doesn’t matter if the idea is something I am interested in writing now or something I might want to write in the future. It may be an idea I delete later, deciding I don’t care enough to write it at all. If the idea seems valuable to me, I add it to a list.
  • Triggers: There are certain people with whom I disagree with on important issues. Their ideas are so wrong-headed that I am compelled to respond in writing, even if I never acknowledge the original idea or its author. Even though I avoid writing polemics, I am a polemicist.
  • Half Written: Sometimes something strikes me as worth writing, and when I sit down to write it, I end up with two paragraphs. I keep these little riffs, and sometimes, after my subconscious mind goes to work on the idea, the rest of the idea writes itself. James Taylor wrote the three verses of Fire and Rain over the course of a couple of years, writing all three at different times.
  • Write Early: My morning brain is better than my evening brain. I have spoken with a lot of prolific writers, and they all rise early and work in the morning. They have all shared with me that they are most productive and do their best work in the early hours, some starting as early as 4:00 AM. I generally write at 5:00 AM, after brushing my teeth and pouring a cup of coffee.
  • Write Anything: If I ever feel resistance, I start writing. It doesn’t matter what I write, once I start the resistance dissipates very quickly once the channel is open and I capture the signal. I have started by writing a list of things I refuse to write, and I have written a list of things I am afraid to write, and, like magic, something I need to write always appears.

If you struggle to start, these ideas might make it easier for you.

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