Aha! Getting Past Writer’s Block
by Susan Holt Simpson
(Psalm 63:7, NASB).
“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound . . .”
What’s that next line? I used to know every word. Mrs. Marion taught us fifth graders that song in the musty choir room. She played piano and I stood next to a cute brown-haired boy.
“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound . . .” Aha! I remember now. “. . . that saved a wretch like me! Something, sooome-thiiing . . . was blind, but now I see.”
Does my “Aha!” scenario sound familiar? This common experience presents some techniques for overcoming dreaded writer’s block. You know, those painful hours when your characters seem frozen in place, waiting for direction. Or maybe a blank bio page strands you on the edge of a long, lonely proposal road, with no help in sight.
How can we move forward?
- Set the Scene – Allow your creative writer’s mind to wander through the setting of your work-in-progress. If bogged down in a fictional story, browse online images of relevant events, clothing, and advertising, or revisit those detailed character profiles. If stuck in a proposal, skim completed online examples for inspiration. Make note of every idea spark.
- Get a Running Start – After setting the scene, we have what’s needed to make the running start. Just like trying to remember the next hymn line, the key is to start writing what’s already known. It may help to set a timer for five minutes and resolve to write whatever comes to mind. Write a hundred words or a single page. You’ll probably blow past the chosen limit.
- Accept Partial Recall – The product may not be a complete chapter or even an entire scene, but now isn’t the time to get sidelined by perfectionism. Even if the results are only pieces of a very rough draft, it’s something to work with—much better than a nasty blank page.
There are endless suggestions for curing writer’s block. Everyone knows reorganizing closets never helps and neither does mowing the grass. We just have to start singing—start writing—for the next piece to take shape.
Lord, we thank You for being our ever-present help in time of need. Please continue to tell Your stories through our fingers, and may we always reflect Your glory. Amen.
Susan Holt Simpson is a writer and part-time puppy wrangler living in Kentucky. Her work appears in Focus on the Family’s children’s magazines, Keys for Kids Devotionals, and Guideposts Online. She enjoys reading stacks of children’s books from the local library and gladly pays the fines. You can learn more about Susan by visiting her website:www.susanholtsimpson.com