Overcoming Writer’s Constipation

‘Writer’s Block’ is when you don’t know what to say. ‘Writer’s Constipation,’ on the other hand, is when you have so much to say that you get…well…a little plugged up. Getting the ideas to flow (*snicker* I’m starting to regret the metaphor!) is important, especially if you are a freelance writer on a deadline. I don’t think any of these are original to me, but here are some tricks I’ve picked up in my seven years of writing professionally:

Talk it Out with a Friend

My wife is my best friend. Unfortunately for her, I go to her when I need to talk about ideas that won’t make the leap from my brain to the screen. She listens and asks questions. Sometimes it takes awhile. Sometimes I stop her mid-sentence with a “OK-thanks-that’s-all-I-really-needed!) before I sprint to the office.

Talk It Out on Paper

When I can’t find someone to listen, i start writing what I would tell them if they were there. I write, “If my wife were here I would tell her about (blank) and how it (blank) and will change the entire universe because (blank, blank, and blank)!” Then I write, “If she were here, she would ask, ‘What about (blank) or (blank)?'” And I will answer, “Great question! I thought (blank) and (blank) would do the trick nicely!”

You get the picture. After about two pages of that exchange, I have a great start to a wonderful article.

Change Location

Sometimes I just need a change of atmosphere. I remember one day when I moved from my office to the living room to a local coffee shop to Barnes and Noble in a span of four hours. Finally, in Barnes and Noble things started moving again. I wrote solid for the next hour and rushed home to complete the project.

Spring board

Search for good quote about your subject.  Sometimes a good quote sparks a thought or an idea that is just enough to get you going again.

Carry an Everything Book

If your deadline is a ways away, carry an Everything Book.  This is simply a journal you use to record snippets of thought, illustrations, conversations, paragraphs, questions, and sentences on the subject.  Tape relevant printouts in the book with your other notes.  Carry your book everywhere.

Take a Shower

Shower’s help me relax.  Also, I don’t feel funny talking to myself in the shower.  No one is around to listen.  Find something to help you relax.

Mind Map

I’m too lazy right now to write a good description of Mind Mapping.  Google it.  Use it.  It works.

I don’t use any of these ideas in any particular order. I use what I think my mind needs to overcome the blockage and move on. Sometimes, one technique works, sometimes another. Some days I have to go through all my tricks to get things moving again. Those are very long days.

So, there you go. I hope these ideas provide the suppository you need to stimulate your brain, overcome Writer’s Constipation, and get back to regular writing. (*ROTFLOL!* I just can’t help myself!)

2 Comment

  1. Great Post.

    “Take a Shower” is great advice. I often have the best ideas in the shower. It’s my own version of “Thoughts While Shaving”. The problem is finding a way to write them down before you lose them.

    Thanks for the ideas. It’s exactly what I needed today.

  2. Paul Watson says:

    Thanks, Pamela. You’re right about the shower thing. If I work on wording in the shower, I will often lose it. If I work on concepts, though, or establish metaphors in the shower, they stick.

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