7 Ways To Save Half Baked Articles – Getting Unstuck With Your Writing

by Anne Wayman

writer's block solutionsIt happens to all of us. We start with what seems like a great idea and part way through our writing grinds to a halt. Some people call this writer’s block. I’d rather not name it as an illness or condition, but simply admit that for the moment, or even several moments or even days, I’m stuck.

Here are six ways you can break through your writer’s block or stuckness:

Create a purpose for the piece or reread the one you started with. I believe any writing project can benefit from a 10 word purpose statement. They are hugely helpful when I get stuck, and if I get stuck and haven’t written one, I find writing one will often get me writing freely again.

Read the piece out loud. It’s amazing how many problems reading a piece out loud can solve. Your ear can hear things your eye won’t see because you’re the one doing the writing. Just re-reading it over and over again doesn’t seem to solve it as well or as quickly as the sound of your voice reading slowly enough for real understanding.


Do something else, almost anything will work. Spending hours staring at the problem rarely does anything helpful. Switch projects. Do the dishes. Take a shower. Sweep the walk. Take a walk. Movement seems particularly effective. I think that doing something else frees the unconscious to work out a solution for us.

Sleep on it. This is one of those cliche sayings that often works. I find that if, before going to bed, I ask my mind to come up with a solution I’m even more likely to wake up with a new way to view and probably solve the problem. The caveat here is to let the problem go and sleep, not toss and turn over it.

Write the next part. Skip over the problem and write the next part or some other portion. Often this will also free your unconscious to figure out what needs to happen with the part you’re having trouble with.


Write your way through it. Similar to writing the next part, the idea is to keep writing until you’ve worked through it. You’ll probably have a lot of editing and rewriting to do on this section, but that’s better than not getting through it at all.

Start with a new paper and write about the problem you’re having. Take a blank piece of paper, or open a new file and start writing about the problem you’re having. Just free associate and write anything that comes up. As you explore what’s bothering you, you’re likely to stumble into the way to solve it.

How do you solve getting stuck when writing?

[sig]

Would coaching help?

Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by miss pupik


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Ali October 16, 2012 at 4:18 am

Well, I also take a break but until I reach a point where it’s painfully agonizing and I’m sure I won’t be able to write any further.

Taking break does two things: I never go back to that piece or I come back with more ideas than I needed
.
Great post, Anne… tweeting :)
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annew October 16, 2012 at 8:50 am

Yeah, Ali, sometimes we have to walk away forever from a half-baked idea.

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Chloe Louise October 14, 2012 at 9:22 am

Take a good look at the paper. Don’t do anything but look at it and reflect on what you’ve written. In fact, drink a cup of tea or coffee while doing so, and don’t do anything else until you have drank the last drop.
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annew October 16, 2012 at 8:48 am

That focus is what counts, isn’t it.

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Amandah October 12, 2012 at 6:19 am

Timely post!

Yesterday, I wasn’t feeling inspired to write a blog post and decided to go outside and cut the grass. I also helped my mom with her yard work. It was cold, but the sun was shining on the newly turned leaves. :) I didn’t go back to my blog post. I decided to take the rest of the afternoon off. I needed a break.
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annew October 12, 2012 at 9:45 am

Good for you for taking a break and recognizing the need… we all need more of that I think.

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Debbie Dunn October 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Anne,
Those are some great suggestions. Thank you! I can definitely see myself making use of them – especially the first one.

Thanks and best wishes,
Debbie Dunn

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annew October 12, 2012 at 9:43 am

You’re welcome, Debbie.

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Harriet Weinstein October 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

I read Twitter and learn how to improve my tweets.

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annew October 12, 2012 at 9:43 am

Harriet, you’re right, twitter could work too… good idea.

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Cathy Miller October 11, 2012 at 11:17 am

I walk away from it, Anne. It’s rare that the break doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s a short break. Other times it could be a week.

If the ideas are there, but I’m struggling with how to express it, I’ll pull out some of my word lists (Power/Persuasive/Descriptive Word lists) or play with Visual Thesaurus to get the creative juices flowing again.
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annew October 12, 2012 at 9:42 am

I’ve never used word lists or a visual thesaurus… both sound like great ideas Cathy.

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