September 08, 2006 Features & Images » Feature Story

Clearing the blockage 

Writers offer antidotes and anecdotes on overcoming the blank screen

Page 6 of 7

Tim Smith


More nicer (yes, more nicer seems an apt descriptor) kick-starts listed on writer-friendly supportive sites suggest stepping away from the page or computer for a spell, typing out a chapter of your favorite book, having a nice herbal tea. Physical exercise is also a frontrunner for overcoming PWB or writer’s block; yoga, deep breathing, meditating, walking or casually banging your head on the keyboard in Sesame Street style. A venue change is also a popular suggestion. There are reams of writing exercises, such as choosing an object on your desk and simply describing it, or cutting a picture from a magazine and scribbling a short piece on it and doodling. Perfectionism is to be avoided. Goals are to be realistic. There should also be a note about not spending too much time on the Internet learning that Trollope wrote every day for three hours, 250 words every 15 minutes and produced 49 novels in 39 years. Nor does it behoove one to learn that some compounded cases of writer’s block are currently being treated with anti-depressants (which may kill creativity, but at least kill the anguish associated with lack of production) or Ritalin.


  “…If I’m stuck and can’t wait for an idea to magically appear, I go for a walk listening to music. I generally get absorbed in the imagery of the song and then WHAM, a flood of ideas hits me.”

– Erica Basnicki


Okay. So. What have I learned? I have learned that I am having extra trouble writing because of:

1. Anxiety

2. Depression

3. Lack of fitness

4. Nutritional deficiency

5. Perfectionism

6. Belief in a condition that may not exist

7. Lack of chocolate

8. Lack of breast milk in my life

9. Lack of proper breathing

10. Spontaneous change in my frontal lobe

11. Obsession with the Internet

12. Lack of imagination

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