Writer’s Block: The Five W’s and the H

We’ve all had writer’s block at one point or another. It’s always a pain and it comes up when you need it to be at bay the most. But why? Why does it do that and who does it affect? I’m taking my own personal views as to why writer’s block comes about and possibly give ways to get rid of it.

Who: This affects you, obviously, but it also affects your target audience, your boss (if you’re working to write a blog, newsletter, email, etc.), and even your peers. If you don’t keep working toward getting your work done, you won’t be able to succeed and work past the block.

What: Your piece of work, whether it be a longer article, a short email, or a book, your work will be affected. If you have a writer’s block, often enough the work that you are trying to get done won’t have nearly the same amount of quality and effort put into it if you didn’t have the block. Though, sometimes, the work may even turn out better because you have to work through the block!

When: Writer’s block can sneak up on you when you least expect, and more often than not, it comes about when you’re on your last few pages of your novel, or on the last few paragraphs of a research paper. Whenever it pops up, it’s a nuisance. It also happens right before a deadline, making your suffering even more unbearable.

Where: Your writing, obviously. This does’t need much explanation.

Why: Writer’s block is like your brain saying, “I know you’re doing a good job, and you’re on a roll, but I need a break right now, so…” And it’s as though your brain conspires against you when you need to get that very important piece of work done before the deadline.

Okay, so I gave a general, broad overview of writer’s block. They’re the five “W’s” that we wonder: “Why does this happen?”

Well, here’s the “how,” a.k.a. what you can do to help get over your writer’s block.

How: 1) Put it down and come back another time. This is seriously one of the easiest things you can do, but probably also one of the most dangerous. If you put it down for a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days, be sure to come back to it. Don’t just leave it to sit and gather dust!

2) Try a writing exercise. Instead of trying to write what ever you’re working on, grab a separate paper or open a new document and just write the first words that come to mind. One word per line. Just write for five minutes and see what you can come up with. It helps to get your brain muscles working and helps to get your thoughts flowing easier.

Or you can try writing a small blurb for a novel you’ve already read. Add on to the story, change the ending, change the love interest, add a new creature – anything you want! No one’s going to see it, anyway, but this is just a fun way to see what you can create. And who knows? You might even come up with something that you’re working on at the moment.

There are many places online and in hard copy books that you can find where you can find various writing exercises. I recommend “Your First Novel” by Ann Rittenburg and Laura Whitcomb, as one example. I thought that their views and opinions on writing, as well as ways to get published, were useful and easy to understand. (This is mostly for the writing exercises Whitcomb uses throughout many of the chapters, not so much the publishing side of it.)

3) Have someone talk to you about your idea. Yeah, sometimes you don’t want anyone, not even your agent, to know what you’re writing about. But sometimes talking about it and having someone ask questions can open up a whole new door – or onslaught of doors! – for you to consider adding to whatever you’re writing about.

Now these aren’t necessarily the only ways to work through writer’s block. There may be plenty more out there or you might come up with something on your own. Either way, a writing block can be a pain, but if you work through it then you’ll be golden!

Here’s a few other blog posts floating around the Internet that you can check out and see if anything catches your eye:

Just try to keep your chin up! Your writer’s block will be over soon enough (I hope)!

(Just as a small sidenote: I had writer’s block while writing this, starting on January 9th and completing it today, January 14th. Happens to everyone, right?)

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3 responses to “Writer’s Block: The Five W’s and the H

  1. This is a quick and simple view of writer’s block and I love it. Though my “Why” is usually because I don’t know what to do next, but it’s the same principle. I usually let things sit but that always ends up going for too long and I end up powering through it or finding someone made of rubber to bounce ideas off of. Writing exercises don’t work for me because then I end up creating something brand new from it and focusing on that instead.

    • You could also try tailoring those writing exercises to fit the needs of what you’re writing for, or focus them solely on the task at hand. It can be a bit tedious, but it might just be well worth it!

  2. Pingback: Reaching Your Potential As A Writer | Keep Moving Forward

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