Woo hoo, guest blog! Check out all this space. It’s so much nicer here than back at my place.
Writer’s block (that sucked all the fun out, didn’t it?). Two words that instil fear into the hearts of writers the world over. Some say it’s a temporary state, some think it’s permanent and others don’t even believe in its existence. I don’t just believe it exists, I’ve suffered from it.
I struggled with writer’s block for five years whilst studying for my degree, and hated every minute of it (the writer’s block, not the degree…well, maybe the degree, but definitely the block). I couldn’t develop ideas beyond a basic concept. My writing didn’t flow, sounding stilted and forced. It got so bad that I almost gave up altogether.
What is Writer’s Block?
“[Writer’s Block is] an inability to begin or continue writing for reasons other than lack of basic skill or commitment” – Mike Rose, Writer’s Block: The Cognitive Dimension.
I can’t argue with that definition. It sums it up pretty succinctly. In reality, no one knows what causes it but it’s often linked to the writer’s own feelings of anxiety over previous or current works. It typically manifests itself in the following ways:
- Inability to form ideas
- Inability to commit to an idea
- Inability to put words on paper
- Inability to progress past an outline
- Fear of rejection
The list goes on…
Now for the good news, it is only temporary.
Beating the block with writing prompts.
Writing Prompts, especially those that provide a first sentence, offer the ideal opportunity to reignite the creative spark. They allow us to create without tying ourselves down to a project or even investing too much in the quality of our work. They are meant to be fun, to rekindle the joy of just writing and the best thing is, no one but you has to read them.
So, how do we use them? That’s simple.
1. Take a prompt (selected at random) and just write. Don’t edit, don’t even think about what you’re writing…Just write. Whatever is in your head, get it down on paper. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, don’t even stop to read it.
2. Write for as long as you want but try to write for longer than five minutes.
3. When the time runs out, or you choose to finish, read it back. You’ll be amazed at the nuggets of gold and ideas you’ve generated.
4. Rinse and repeat.
As well as beating writer’s block, this tool is great for sparking ideas or refreshing your commitment in a long-term project. It can even give a welcome break from your current work in progress. How you use it is up to you.
Before you all go wandering off – sit down, Smith! – I thought I’d set a little bit of homework. You can do this on your own or in a group. The results are for your eyes only or, if you wish, to share on your blog.
Here it is. Your prompt for this evening:
The attack was over in seconds…
Have at it.
For any of you wishing to share, I’d love to read your work. Either put your link in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Writing Prompt Resources
For those who want to take this further, I’ve included a list of websites I’ve used in the past to generate writing prompts.
- Genre, Plot and Story Prompt Generators
- Seventh Sanctum
- Random First Line Generator
- Thain in Vain’s Flash Fiction Challenge