How to Start Writing When You’d Rather Stick Your Head Down the Toilet

Writer’s Block: The inability to form coherent and witty sentences. Getting stuck with sub-par phrasing. Writing like a simpleton or not writing at all.

A friend once asked: “why is it that writers are the only people who constantly experience writer’s block?” Well, it’s not that writers are the only ones who experience the dreaded writer’s block, it’s just that writers tend to take that “literary pause” personally. (How else are you supposed to take it?)

You spend your whole life thinking you can produce great results by tinkering with words, restructuring whole paragraphs and creating multiverses with your smart-sounding, highfaluting lingo—but when the time comes for you to deliver, you blank out and start your short story or article with: “there was once…” or worse, “I think…” –no certainty, zero originality. I’m actually a huge fan of “In this day and age…” makes me sound smart, i think. No? Oh well.

Another great irony that comes with writer’s block is how sometimes you have writing as your job, and you churn out 10 articles with 300 (minimum)-words each, stuck in your own tiny hellhole which your boss insists on calling a “proper cubicle”, and yet you can’t seem to write anything other than the things you write about for your regular job, like the construction of wheelchairs or the mechanics of mortgage. (humidifiers, dehumidifiers, axial connectors and PVC pipes included)

The next thing you know, you’d rather stop writing altogether. You avoid your computer and your journal in hopes that you won’t have to write anything other than what you have to write at work. You blame the lack of creativity and coherence in your writing on stress.

Stress can be blamed for anything actually. Most men blame rapidly receding hairlines on stress. Women blame being slightly “bloated” (also known as gaining 25 lbs in a less than a month), on stress or PMS-ing. PMS=stress. Mostly, I just blame stress for that one incident when my palm got stuck inside the freezer.

Whatever reason you may have for not being able to churn out anything creative or new, whether it’s stress, karma, depression or lack of inspiration—the key to getting rid of writer’s block is disciplined writing.

Writing is habit-forming. One of my favorite professors once said, writing is like a muscle. You stop exercising it, you get dystrophy. The less you write, the less familiar this skill becomes. You have to constantly develop your writing style and you have to keep writing, even when you feel like you’re producing nothing more than a load of bollocks. Eventually, you’ll get your groove back.

Have writing exercises. I used to play a game with a close friend of mine. We’d sit in some random cafe and sip our overpriced coffee. (My boyfriend once pointed out how instant coffee tastes better than the crap I drink. Unfortunately, I’m inclined to agree. I blame stress.) He’d point to some random post or cup and we’d write a poem or an essay taking the perspective of that particular object. I think the first random writing exercise we did was the lamppost. My poem was shitty, but at least I was writing again.

Engage in drunken renga. Same friend, different setting. After a couple of beers, you feel brave enough to show your sappy side or your ten-years-late-teenage-angst to everyone. Bring out your pen and paper and have some close writing buddies nearby. Agree on a topic and write one line and then pass to the next person until your group finishes the poem.

Out of the numerous drunken rengas we produced, I think only two would qualify as somewhat coherent. But it’s a lot of fun and an excellent way to break your writer’s block.

Free Writing. There’s always something to write about. Engaging in free writing means writing about anything and everything under the sun. You can curse or write the most random thoughts down, it doesn’t matter. You’re not writing to make sense here, you’re writing to gain momentum.

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