Q&A - What do you do to inspire/overcome writer’s block?
By Kate-Yeonjae Jeong, Brooke Nind, Grace Zhang, Shelly Bhagat, and Daniel Boyko
As a writer, there always comes a time where you literally come to a block. Ideas may faintly come across your mind but disappear as quickly as they come.
One thing I always do to overcome a writer’s block is imagine. The mind is a magical, amazing thing; you can put yourself into a world, any scenario, and dive into that bubble you have created. I look around my surroundings for inspiration, whether it be landscape or situation, and develop a character and story for myself to delve into. It’s breathtaking to see how you can take a mundane thing to turn its perspective to paint a masterpiece with details sewn throughout.
Writer’s block is unavoidable. It happens to everyone, and you never know when it’s going to strike; however, it can be beat with the right mindset and tools. I usually find myself most inspired when I’m sitting outside. I’ll either sit in my backyard and observe all the sights and sounds of nature, or go to a local park and people-watch. If you’re experiencing writer’s block for a specific piece you’re working on, it can also help to write about a completely different topic or just create a stream of consciousness. I’ll make a journal entry or start a new piece unrelated to what I was previously working on just to get the creative juices flowing.
Writer’s block is an inevitable obstacle that most writers, including me, often encounter. Having a writer’s block usually equates to sitting at your desk with your laptop. The document or page is empty; you hesitate and write a sentence, but it soon gets erased, and once again, the page becomes blank. When I’m in this situation, I usually listen to music. It doesn’t have to be lyrical; background music or melodies work as well. The sounds can instill distinct moods or emotions in the air, which becomes an inspiration for my next creative writing or poetry piece. I also like going hiking or traveling somewhere close by to clear my mind before starting fresh. Oh, and art as well––I suggest visiting art museums or browsing art magazines. You’ll find that looking at pieces of art, especially those open to many forms of interpretation, can make you wonder if you could put the artwork into words to generate any creative writing topics.
You have to write a story for your English class and after an hour of trudging down that dirt road of writing your intro paragraph, you stumble in front of a massive boulder obscuring your view of what lies ahead: you have no idea of how your story will end. Classic writer's block. So how do you remove such an obstacle? I suggest turning your back on the story for a few hours. Take a walk and get lost in the ocean of your thoughts; go wherever your mind takes you and let it steer you to your destination. Don't rush yourself to come up with an idea if you have time to think. The greatest ideas come gradually, at times when you least expect it. However, if your deadline awaits and you are still unsure of what to write, look up prompts online to gain inspiration or jot down a list of everything on your mind. I promise you that an idea is lurking somewhere in there.
We’ve all faced the pure dread of writer’s block: a feeling of driving in a still-wet-paint Ferrari only to crash into a brick wall. It’s painful, time-consuming, frustrating, and makes us question our writing talent at every available opportunity. Needless to say, it keeps some writers up at night shivering with goosebumps, even if they’re nicely tucked underneath three blankets. As I’m sure you could guess (mostly based off of the above responses and the title of this post), I’m here to try to help you avoid crashing into that brick wall. For me personally, I do something slightly unconventional and interesting (or at least I think it’s interesting): I come up with the ending of whatever it is I’m writing. That’s right. I go backwards. If I’m four sentences into a short story (not even a paragraph!) and have no idea what to write next, I try to think of how I want to end the piece, both conceptually and as a last line. From there, it’s a smoother road for me to think about what steps are necessary to get to that final line, that unexpected ending. Sure, this conclusion may be adjusted in time, but when I have two ends of a creative piece (the starting line and the ending line, which are the most important, in my opinion), I feel like it’s significantly, significantly easier and more enjoyable to fill in the gaps. Could just be me, but isn’t it easier to build a room when there’s a floor and ceiling? And if you get writer’s block even before the first line, it’s a similar situation: think about the conclusion and consider what steps are necessary to get you there, like which destinations you have to pass by on a train to get to your stop. I’m not going to lie to you and say this will cure writer’s block within seconds, but giving it a shot certainly can’t hurt.
Kate-Yeonjae Jeong is a First Reader at Polyphony Lit and and a blogger at Voices.
Brooke Nind is a Second Reader at Polyphony Lit and and a blogger at Voices.
Grace Zhang is a Second Reader at Polyphony Lit and and a blogger at Voices.
Shelly Bhagat is a First Reader at Polyphony Lit and a blogger at Voices.
Daniel Boyko is an Executive Managing Editor at Polyphony Lit and a blogger at Voices.