21 Dragons

In Search of Wisdom

2 Paradoxical Solutions for Writer's Block

I'm paid to be creative. In my job as a writer, I'm expected to come up with interesting story ideas and write about these ideas in interesting ways. And yet, those ideas don't always come. There are two good solutions I've found for writer's block, but they're opposing solutions.

The first solution is to keep plowing through the writing. Write whatever comes to mind, no matter how bad it is and allow myself a shitty first draft. After my fingers warm up to writing, something usually arises.

Unless it doesn't and I produce lousy sentence after lousy sentence. Then I try the second solution, which is to goof off. I do something else other than the work; surf the internet, go for a walk or clean up the table. Sometimes inspiration strikes and I can quickly go back to writing.

The two solutions contradict each other, one tells you to keep working, the other tells you to stop working. The art is in knowing which solution to use, when to use it, and knowing usually comes down to experience mingled with self-awareness: The experience to know which solution applies today, and the self-awareness to know when you're not just running in place or putting off the work.