Bypass The Block

Suffering from writer’s block sometimes feels like the worst thing in the world to have happen to you, especially if you are on a deadline or if you only have a short amount of time each day to work on your writing. Fortunately, there are many things that writers can do to get their creative juices flowing again. Some of these suggestions include getting some form of exercise/take a walk to clear your mind and get some fresh air or distract your mind by reading a book or magazine unrelated to your writing (mentioned in my previous post). Sometimes, breaks like these just don’t work so I was really happy when I caught an article today in The Huffington Post which focused on getting kids to ‘like’ creative writing. I think the tools/exercises mentioned in the article will also help to get any writer, of any age, out of a ‘funk.’

The article is titled ‘2 Great Exercises to Help Kids Love Creative Writing’ by Brett Murphy Hunt, a College English Lecturer. In the article she talks about two techniques to improve children’s interest in creative writing. The first technique that she offered is called “Word Association Exercise.” The way it works is that someone (or the teacher) is supposed to give you a series of words and then the writer is to write down the first word that pops into his or her head, next to the word given to them. After all the words are given, the writer is supposed to circle a group of words that create the strongest visual for them and hopefully this will inspire some free or new writing/ideas.

If you don’t have someone to do a similar exercise like this with, I have a solution. Look at a random newspaper, magazine, or online article or a bunch of different articles. Pick out some words out of an article and then next to the words you select write the first word that pops into your mind. This exercise will be helpful for people who just need to jump start their creative juices and wake their mind up again.

The next exercise that Brett presents to her students is a “Partnered Story,” which is exactly what you think it is. The teacher writes the first line of a chapter then passes the notebook to the student, who then writes the second line. The teacher and student go back and forth like this for as long as needed, until the imagination is flowing again.

Again, you will need someone else to do this exercise with- a friend, sibling, parent, or even pen pal. If you don’t have someone to do this exercise with then I would suggest using the internet as your other person. Go to a comment section of any article you can find and take a comment that you find interesting and add a second sentence to it. Odds are (if it is an interesting enough comment) you will get a response, and then you can keep on going with it.  The sentences don’t have to relate to anything you are writing or something you would ever want to write, they just need to rev your mind back into gear. They could be completely funny and out of context just to elicit a visceral response from an unsuspecting reader. The more fun you have with it, the more you will gain.

Although both these exercises are described to be used in the context of students in a classroom, I think they are both wonderful exercises for writers of any age. They will certainly help to ignite a spark in the creative mind and help get stuck writers unstuck. The hardest part of being stuck is getting unstuck and any help we can get is always appreciated. Write on.

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