writer's block: how do you deal with it?

Updated: Apr 4

By: Olivia Madreperla, Contributor


Nothing is more daunting to a writer than staring at a blank page. Seeing your cursor blink expectantly as you sit and wait for the computer to type something for you, or for something mildly interesting to appear in the depths of your subconscious. In my personal opinion, this part of the writing process is the worst part. Even editing pales in comparison to the nefarious stare of the blank page. However, fear not fellow writers! We are here to help in your desperate time of need!


Starting out a piece of poetry, literature, or anything in between is a scary task. You sit there trying to come up with an idea that hasn’t been said before, which is extremely difficult, for people have been documenting their creative endeavors for thousands of years. However, lucky for you, no one has ever existed that is exactly like you. What draws a reader to a piece of work is their ability to relate their own lives to a work that describes another life or experience. I find that the best stories come from places close to the author.


You are probably familiar with the famous poet Seamus Heaney-- he wrote hundreds of poems about his childhood in Ireland and was able to provide a new perspective on farm life as an educated writer. Similarly, the best way to find an idea is from your own life and past experiences. So what can you do? I suggest going back to your earliest memory or your favorite memory and write. Don’t stop until you feel that the memory has been completed. The memory can span between seconds, minutes, or hours as long as you don’t stop writing for 10 minutes before you finish your description. Once you have this rough outline of a brief memory in your life, find other memories that are similar or, in some cases, completely contrasting to the previous. Write them all down in the order of which they happened. By looking at the way you handled painful, content, joyful, and angering experiences throughout your life, you already have a solid foundation for a character and, in some cases, a plot can easily emerge from a strong character description. If a plot doesn’t immediately seem obvious, create a character chart that describes certain aspects of your protagonist. These personality traits can help you create a logical antagonist as well as a pragmatic obstacle for your character to experience during your story. So, now that you have a general idea of the plot and your main character, you can start writing! You can draw from your memories that you wrote down, or you can create something completely new! If you are experiencing difficulty finding a setting, find a different place to work than where you might usually sit down and write. Visit a coffee shop, go to the park, take a walk. Any of these things allow you to experience different settings to find the best fit for the story you wish to create. In summary, writer’s block is a difficult thing to overcome, but with the right steps, any writer can burst through with an imaginative story that is compelling and heartfelt that their audience will enjoy!


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