Two demons terrorize writers – No-Topic and Mechanics. We typically call this nefarious duo “Writer’s Block” butthis misfortunate label tricks us into treating symptoms rather than attacking the sources of the infection. You must identify which demon plagues you before you can exorcise it and get back to the business of writing.
Staring at the computer screen and mumbling, “I have no clue what to write about.” is a sure sign that ‘No-Topic’ has his claws sunk into your brain. Do not fear, proper preparation can easily banish this foul creature into the abyss.
- As you think of topics, write them down. I carry my Everything Journal with me all the time. If I’m ever caught without it, though, I scribble the topic on anything I can find – receipts, napkins, etc. – and tape it into my journal when I get home. When ‘No-Topic’ comes a-calling, I banish him easily by flipping through the pages of my journal and picking a topic stored within.
- Sometimes, you simply run out of ideas. This is serious. To replenish your stock, you need to step outside your box and experience something new. Read a biography. Watch a documentary. Do something you don’t normally do. The new experiences or ideas should shock your befuddled mind out of its lethargy and allow you to shake the shackles of ‘No-Topic’ and cast him out.
If you write a few words and delete them. If you write a few more words and delete them again. If you get a cup of coffee, write some more words and delete them. Then ‘Mechanics’ has you in his grip. He likes to frustrate you into believing that you know what to say, but have no clue how to say it. Shaking him is a little more difficult than ‘No Topic,’ but it can be done.
- ‘Mechanics’ is obese. You can outrun him. Close your eyes and type. Type fast. Type anything about your topic that comes to mind. Type as if you were running through a field and didn’t have time to stop and pick up anything you dropped along the way. In other words, don’t even think about grammar, spelling, or sentence structure. Throw up on paper. When you can’t type anymore, look up. ‘Mechanics’ probably had a heart attack. Now you can go back, sift through the words on the pages, and pick up any gems shaken loose by your sprint.
- Research. Sometimes you don’t know what to say about a topic because you don’t know enough about the topic. Read Wikipedia articles, blogs, books, and magazines. Use knowledge to send ‘Mechanics’ back where he came from!
Next time you feel a little Writer’s Block, take the time to identify the misfit behind your malady. Armed with these suggestions, you can finish them off in no time and get back to work.