Jump Start for Writer’s Block

Filling the blank page – one of my favorite tools.

Even when you’ve made your appointment with yourself and show up to write, some days the words simply do not come.  Some call this writer’s block.  Rather than sit and fret over this, driving your words, your creativity farther into hiding, try my favorite trick.  I learned this writing trick at a workshop with David James Duncan.  It has helped me more times than I can count.

Think of a favorite passage of writing.  It can be about anything.  Just make sure that there is something about it that inspires you:  word choices, verb choices, engagement of the five senses, sparks emotion, anything.  Now, get out a piece of notebook paper and a pen or pencil and copy the passage, slowly and deliberately, long hand.  Do not type it.  That will not work.  Writing long hand forces you to slow down and engage with the piece.  Notice the rhythm of your movement and the words.

One of my favorite pieces to use for this has always been Elizabeth Gilbert’s “The Physics of the Quest” as explained in her book Eat, Pray, Love (2007, Riverhead Books, 387 pages).  When I write this, I notice several things.  It is stream-of-consciousness, meaning it feels random or run-on in certain places, which for me lends itself to the passion of this passage.  I also think that this describes the way I feel at my core about my writing and teaching life.  I find myself reminded I am on a quest; I pursue daily my passions of writing and teaching, to the exclusion of other things, particularly the tyranny of the urgent.

When I finish copying this, I usually feel that my bucket is full, that I have something more to say (write).  

Going further…

What is your favorite passage?  Take the time now to write that passage out.

Further still…

Think about what that passage means to you.  Why do you enjoy it?  Why is it a favorite?  What part of the writing makes it a favorite?

Please share the author, what essay, book, or poem it is from, and what you discover by returning to that passage in the comments.  Maybe your passage will become a favorite of other people in this group as well.

Happy writing…

At Stacking Stones Writers, I seek to create a community of writers, a place you can go to find encouragement for your passion – writing.  Please follow the Stacking Stones Writers blog to have easy access to all the tips, tools, and ideas shared here.  Thank you!

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