Although our reasons might be different, we all experience the infamous writer’s block at some point in our writing process. Personally, I have experienced writer’s block for two reasons so far. One, fear, which I talk about in my blog “Dealing with Fear” and, two, losing my strong consistent voice. Several of my fellow writers have discussed this topic with me and have similar reasons as to why they experienced writer’s block.
I want to share with you some strategies that helped me overcome writer’s block.
The first way I overcame my writer’s block was to identify the reason for the block. I mention this in several of my blogs but, writing a memoir is like going to therapy: you have to dig deep. For example, I realized that one of the reasons for my writer’s block was the fear of writing about other people and that they might not want me to write about them. Another reason I had writer’s block during my memoir writing process was because I was reading many memoirs by authors who had very different voices and so, when I started to write, I lost my own voice (I talk more about this in my blog “Finding Your Voice Part 2”). A fellow writer and friend of mine also got writer’s block recently because her voice changed and didn’t match the voice she wrote her older essays in. You can’t get over writer’s block until you find the root of the problem so dig deep!
Another way I overcame my writer’s block was to change my writing strategy. I used to just type up my essays on the computer. This worked for me for years. However, when it really came time to churn out my memoir, I found myself just staring at a blank Word document, the cursor blinking with anticipation, as my mind went as blank as the page. I realized that my writer’s block was keeping me from typing up essays straight onto the computer. So, I decided to go old school and write by hand. Also, to help me overcome the fears that were the root causes of my writer’s block, I decided to writer in a notebook as if it was my personal journal. I have been writing personal journals since I was nine years old so I feel no fear when writing those by hand. I imagined that the essays for my memoir were just journal entries and began writing them down. The result was remarkable! All of a sudden all my fear disappeared and words just flowed onto the page. I wrote until I felt satisfied that I got all the ideas from my head onto paper. Then, I took what I wrote, typed it up and began editing and expanding it. So far, out of the fourteen essays I’ve written for my memoir, seven began as hand written “journal entries.”
Lastly, another way I have been able to overcome writer’s block is to play with different formats and writing exercises and prompts. I realized that I loved writing satire in a letter format so I began using that format for my serious writing as well. I used the format of listicles, recipes, instructions, definitions, etc. to get my creative juices flowing. I also used online resources like writer’s groups or writing websites to find writing exercises and prompts to help get the words flowing out of me. Even if the prompts had nothing to do with the topic of my memoir, they still helped me get over my writer’s block and begin writing creatively again.
These are some of the ways that I have been able to overcome writer’s block in the past. As I continue with my memoir writing process, I’m sure I will experience writer’s block again for different reasons. This is something that we all have to constantly work on as writers. So, please share with me your experiences with writer’s block and how you have dealt with it in the past.
I want to thank those of you who have been reading my blogs and engaging with them. I truly appreciate your feedback, advice, and shared experiences. You all motivate me to keep writing!
Next week’s blog will be about how to find a strong universal theme for your memoir. Until then…
Happy Writing! :)
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