Wild Words . . . Photos & Fine Art

Co-creating by heart with sandy cathcart through writers helps and art info, focusing on all things wild.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Getting Past Writer's Block

When I first heard the term, “writer’s block,” I didn’t think it had anything to do with me. I have more ideas than years left to accomplish them. So, I’ve never experienced a real block in the sense of not having any ideas to write.

On the other hand, I have experienced a block when working on a certain project and not knowing what’s going to happen next. I simply hit a wall. One time I wrote a scene three different ways and none of them seemed right. In the end, I left the scene out and went on to the next. It was the perfect answer.

But the biggest block I face, and I suspect most of us do, comes from fear.

I find myself working on anything BUT my WIP (Work in progress). I’ll clean my desk, get my materials together, gather notes, even write an article . . . or two . . . or three . . . without adding any words to my WIP. I recently came to the conclusion that it’s probably because I’m afraid the RIGHT words won’t show up.

Lately, I’ve been moving at overcoming this trend, by forcing myself to put one word at a time down on the computer.

I don’t always know where I’m going. I start with prayer. Sometimes I take a walk and I get the first line, or the first hint of a scene, then I return and start typing.

In my childhood, my father would take a rope and tie a knot every three-feet in order to drop the rope into our well and see how deep it was. Then he would pull the rope out one yard at a time as he counted the knots. That’s how I feel when I’m writing on my WIP . . . I’m pulling the sentences out, one word at a time. I’m pulling the paragraphs out one sentence at a time . . . the chapters, one paragraph at a time . . . until finally I have a completed book.

I finished my novel doing this very thing. Now I’m working on my nonfiction project.

If your problem is even deeper . . . let’s say you can’t even write at all, then James Scott Belloffers some wonderful information I picked up from his blog. He says, the following:

“But if a true, blue dog day bites you, try this. Write one line. About anything. Make something up. Write one line in your writer’s journal or a first line for a potential novel. Or write the first line of a poem or a letter to the editor. Or make it complete nonsense. What will happen is this. You'll want to write another line, just to see what goes with the first one.

“And maybe a line or two after that. Don't overthink this. Just do it. If nothing else happens, forget about it. But on line may be all it takes to get you back to writing on that project you're stuck in. Even if it doesn't, you've written something, and that's part of you writing life now.”

His admonition to not “overthink” is important. Overthinking can take all the life out of your project.


At 8:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I tried the, “Write one line thing.” It was actually a lot of fun. I encourage people too try it. You can create some really, shall we say different stories??? :)

On another note, I just wanted to thank you for your support, and encouragement. I was ready to throw in the towel. Keep shinning for HIM. Hope you have a blessed Easter.


At 12:58 PM, Blogger Sandy Cathcart said...


That is soooooo cool! Would love to see your results. Wanna share?


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