Stopping the Block

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Does writer’s block exist?

I tell my students, when they don’t want to do a creative writing assignment and use writer’s block as an excuse, that you can always write something. That even the term “writer’s block” is just a phrase made up by the procrastinators. But that’s my duty as a teacher to tell them that, isn’t it? The truth is, I totally understand. There are plenty of times when I am sitting in front of my computer and I’ve got….nothing. So I edit something else I’ve been working on, I troll around Facebook, I check my email for the hundredth time, and then I get back to work and still…nothing.

But I do think there are some ways to break writer’s block. After all, the thoughts are already there, it’s just a matter of finding a way to let them rise to the surface of your conscious mind. I really believe this, because I have never once experienced writer’s block during a fiction workshop: these are designed with the express purpose of helping us find material. But now that I’m almost finished with my classes and have my thesis stretched out in front of me (four out of ten chapters finished, and lots left to go), I am going to have to rely more heavily on my own methods of finding the words within. It’s the first step out of the cocoon of the MFA and I’m looking for suggestions.

I know all the standards: re-reading a favorite short story, going for a walk, taking a shower, etc., but does anyone have any quirky methods that work for them? I’ve heard of sitting quietly, eyes closed, in front of the computer with an egg timer. When the timer buzzes, you get to work. Anyone tried it? Anything else you can suggest?


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