Writer’s block

I get writer’s block regularly enough. Every writer does. Sometimes you have an idea that you can’t quite put into words just yet, sometimes your brain is tired and doesn’t want to co-operate, sometimes a vital scene or passage is hard and you can’t quite figure out how to attack it.

You’d think that, as somebody who works with words for a living, I’d fare a bit better at this. However, I’ve found that the fact that I work with other people’s words for a living can sap me a bit. I love what I do and I love writing, but you can have too much of a good thing. The fact that I’m working on a PhD at the same time is also a factor, because my mind might be working on that even if I haven’t written a word.

There are ways around it, though. This blog and Chronica Minora are helping because they’re forcing me to think more concretely about all my different projects. The most effective way around writer’s block, I’ve found, is to write – but write about something different. If you’re struggling with a PhD chapter, start another one. If you can’t write a headline, tap away at a report or read something different. An enjoyable technique to break the block is handwriting; the process of actually tracing the words out makes you think differently, and soon enough you’re back on track.

Don’t believe me? Well writers like Stephen King and the late David Eddings have written novels by hand. It can be done. I wrote a good swathe of my MA thesis by hand and, even though it had to be substantially rewritten and edited, it got me from point B to C and brought the end within sight.

This post alone has given me ideas for a short story and the motivation to get cracking on the PhD again. Every little helps…

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