Writer’s block sucks. This is what I do when I struggle with writer’s block:
Write to myself.
There’s a lot of writer’s block advice out there, and I understand why: it’s everywhere. You’re trying to write something, anything. You’re writing a book. You’re writing a personal essay. You’re finishing some homework assignment. You want to get into college, grad school, get this grant. You need this job.
So, I write to myself.
I’ll pull up a draft in my gmail, put the subject as “writing #118” and then just type about whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t matter what’s on my mind, whether I’m annoyed with someone or I’m trying to come up with ideas for a blog post. I just write. I’ll often include links to articles I like, that I later link to on my “Sunday Stuffs.”
(It depends on what makes the cut – I have links to a lot of different workouts that I try once and then never again.)
Then I send it to myself, click on the email, and move it to a writing folder I have in my email.
Sometimes I’ll go back and use those ideas, but most of the time I don’t. Honestly, it’s just there to get the juices flowing. I’ll come up with new ideas from those ideas – and then I start writing rough drafts of articles or essays, and depending on the publishing medium, move into Google Docs or put it on this blog.
And it works.
Good luck to you in whatever you write. Keep writing – even when it’s total, utter crap. I know that I always feel amazing after I create something.
P.S. The second-best piece of advice I’ve heard comes from the dude who reviews all the submissions to the New York Times’ Modern Love column:
That attitude, for me, is the definition of writer’s block: being too impatient to waste time writing badly. You have to write badly to write well. And you have to sit with the bad writing and write more of it and then sit with that until eventually you start writing well. As my old friend Ron Carlson says, “Whatever you do, stay in the room.”
Writer’s block isn’t a lack of something to say. It’s a lack of patience with figuring out how to say it. So stay in the room. Write badly. It is productive. You just might not know it yet.