Whether it's a page or screen devoid of words, writer's block can get crippling. Most of us know “advice” such as taking a walk, having coffee, changing writing tool or going on vacation, is hardly helpful. Because God knows if it's a bad case of writer's block bugging me, it's here to stay even if I move to China and try writing on scrolls instead.
So what does help defeat this terrible, creativity-draining monster? Try these more specific writing exercises:
ANY FIVE WORDS
Choose around 5 random words from an online word generator or just make a friend come up with them. The idea is to write something, a few sentences at least, and use all the words. This is often better than just using one opening line/word or a generic theme as it ensures ease of continuity. Set a timer for around an hour to make this easier. The words are probably random and unrelated (example: cookie, yellow, bridge, journalist, fire) which makes your work all the more fun.
MUSIC IS YOUR MUSE
Listen to a random track/ album and write while the music is playing. Your words don't need to have anything in common with the lyrics, rather channel what the song makes you feel or think about and incorporate that into your writing. Experiment with types of music you normally wouldn't listen to.
MOVIES TO THE RESCUE
The worst way to overcome writer's block is lazing in front of the TV right? Well, not always. Try writing a scene you've just watched in a movie/TV series. Don't only focus on the dialogue and obvious actions, notice details in the background as well to make your writing descriptive. Just remember, this is simply an exercise to help you pick up the flow of writing - don't try to pass off some screenwriter's work as your own.
VISIT MEMORY LANE
Sometimes it's not about what you write but how you write. So just write a few paragraphs on what you did today, or about an interesting event in your life. Anecdotes are always fun. You could also try your hand at keeping a journal or diary.
IT'S GOOD TO DREAM
Write what you dream about, literally. Not only are dreams usually weird they're often remembered in fragments, allowing you to invent things along the way and get your creative juices flowing. You know what to write but you also have to fill in some gaps. The inspiration and content are also from within your mind so if you were just feeling incapable of “creating” anything new, interesting or original, your dreams should prove you wrong.
Every small practice run isn't equivalent to a marathon but completing a number of runs can help you finish that marathon one day, similarly not everything you write can be a masterpiece, so when writer's block is holding you back, these exercises can hopefully get you back in the habit of writing, give you some newfound inspiration and maybe lead you to that masterpiece one day.
Salma Mohammad Ali fears she is becoming a crazy cat lady and uses writing as a means to grasp on to sanity. Send her your views/hate/love at fb.com/salma.ali209