Cures for Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is not my problem.  In fact I barely have enough time to write.  So let me offer some ideas to motivate and inspire you.  Not all are new but hearing them again should help us all.

  1. Keep a notebook. The little ones fall apart and the big ones are too bulky. Try a 5”x8” spiral binding for jotting down words, facts, observation and opinions. This week a TV reporter said, “He was too competitive to make friends.”  Ah-ha.! Add envy, jealousy, alcohol, and you have the start of a story, a failed marriage or a mystery plot.  Staple related notes together and store them near your keyboard.  If inspiration is lacking, read them until something pops into place.  {60% of all Americans prefer the color blue.  Write it down.}  Add new words then look them up online.  This week I saw the name Torquemada applied to a politician; when I researched this I was shocked to learn the author had smacked the man with a major insult.
  2. Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers.  You’ll not fail to get an idea from everything you read.  Underline or post-it flag pages if you own the book.  Reading forces you to think differently about a subject.
  3. Keep a schedule. I use Microsoft Excel to record Who got What When plus follow-up dates.  No sale? On to the next editor.  The rejection letter can lead to despair so ignore emotions and realize rejection is “the cost of doing business” and move on.  As to your personal schedule, note when you do your best work, 4-6 a.m., 10-1, 3-6 or 9 to midnight, whatever – then stick to it.
  4. Select your market. This isn’t buckshot.  I was once an agent for an artist who draws newsmakers but never celebrities. I wasted no postage on US or People Magazines. Read market information carefully and get to know editors by name.  None of this “Dear You-All” unless the editor’s name is not given which occurs occasionally.
  5. Blogs are free. You can post previously published material or work not for sale.  Include a copyright statement and your picture.  You want them to know you are a real person.  At the end of your submission letter you can state, “Please see my blog for additional writing samples.”  If you are computer-challenged there are online courses in web creation.  Try ed2go.com to find a college in your area.
  6. Submission letter. Include everything – name, snail and email addresses, Twitter, Facebook and day phone, plus your Pay Pal account for a quick payment option.
  7. My contact list includes the following – an artist who works solely with children, a former boss now a Congressperson, and a friend who was a private cop for Neiman-Marcus.  If there is a hole in your work, your contact list may help with details.
  8. Find an editor-friend who will troll for typos. They slip through when we read our own work. Trade off skills here.  What can you do for them?
  9. Do some Freebie work. Many years ago I wrote an Op-Ed for a large daily.  Two weeks later an editor phoned with a part-time job.  This became my best training ground.
  10. Stumble on! This is an internet aid. You list your interests with them so when you are bored and need a break, hit the Stumble button for sites in your fields.
  11. Formal classes at night are available everywhere.  The best class is where you learn from more experienced students.  Writing classes are OK but you will probably learn more from general areas.  My most mind-expanding class was Medical Geography which demonstrated how geography and the diseases in an area affect culture and history. Think how that would influence your work.
  12. The red-wine secret. Unless you are under a deadline, let your writing mature then re-read it when you have forgotten most of it. The sediments will jump out at you, and maybe some new ideas will have percolated into your brain.

Finally there is one more thing to deal with – procrastination.  Set up a disciplinary system.  If you don’t start on time, if you dawdle, snooze or watch TV, or any number of other diversions, punish yourself.

NO Dove bar for you at 3 p.m.  And be consistent about that.  Writing is like watching your weight; you have to do it anyway.

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