STT News & Course Updates

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Cracking the Dreaded Writer's Block

If you've got round to reading my profile you will know I'm not only a counsellor but also a writer and writing tutor.

My students often complain about getting writer’s block. This can happen whatever you are doing. You might be writing the final chapter to your novel, or your University dissertation. You might be writing a short story or even writing a thank-you letter for that Christmas present that you really didn’t want. But you can’t write it! Your mind has gone completely blank and that great idea which came to you in the middle of the previous night has gone for good.

It happens to us all. There is no secret fix to get you around the problem. The best thing you can do is to walk away from your computer – perhaps go and stack the dishwasher or clean the car. Indeed, doing something mundane might actually help release your brain and allow it to think about your problem from a fresh point of view. Then, before you know where you are, you are rushing to your keyboard and you can’t get the ideas down quickly enough.

In an attempt to pre-empt writer’s block it is always a good idea to keep a tiny notepad and pencil beside you wherever you are. Then when ideas come to you, you can pause for a few seconds from what you are doing and can jot down a handful of key words which will remind you of your brilliant idea at a more convenient time.

This is how I wrote my first book, all about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and how it had affected me. Some of the chapters flowed very easily but others were much harder work. Every paragraph was chiselled out at a painstakingly slow pace and several times I almost dried up completely. However, the little notebook came to my aid on a number of occasions and it has been with me ever since.

Of course, those of you with a bit of technical ability will be able to make use of your mobile phone or Note Book or Blackberry to do the same thing. These gadgets are in a different world from me. I admire everyone who can use them, just as I admire anyone who can programme a DVD recorder to save their favourite programmes on TV – but I know my limitations!

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