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Writing Tips: Where to start with a white blank page

by Phillip Smalley

We’ve had days where we hit that proverbial wall. An hour or so after lunch time the clock starts moving slower, the air seems a bit stiffer and the work just seems to pile up. We’ve been taught that this malady can be fought by the remedies of today; exercise, proper nutrition and sleep and keeping a positive work/life balance.

But what if you work in a creative field? In a field where the quantity and length of work is not the major consideration but rather the quality? Sure you can go for a run and get the blood pumping and the brain firing, but what if all you do is come back to the table with a racing mind and garbled ideas. You’ll sit down and write, but maybe you won’t write what you should be writing.
Writer Orson Scott Card has some brilliant advice about this:

“Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me. Then I can go on. Writer’s block is never solved by forcing oneself to “write through it,” because you haven’t solved the problem that caused your unconscious mind to rebel against the story, so it still won’t work – for you or for the reader.”

So the takeaway is this:

  • Make sure you are in the right mindset to write. Don’t try and force anything when your mind is drawing blanks and you’ve been taught to put words on the page in order to begin stimulating the mind.
  • The obstacles are mental and created from within. You must try and solve why you aren’t ready to write. Do you care about what it is you are writing? Is this something that needs to be written down? Who will read what you have to say? Why does it matter? All of these questions are more important to answer than to push on through the trenches – this obstinate attitude can only serve to solidify the reasons why your mind was stuck in the first place.

Ask the questions and solve the problems. Then, when your mind is ready, sit down and write.

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How do you overcome writer’s block?