There is nothing as intimidating as the blinking cursor on a blank page. It is incessant, demanding that you type something. . . anything. Yet, no matter how often it blinks, the words just won't come. The story is there. Your thoughts are in order, but the delivery is elusive. And so, the cursor blinks on.
Writer's block, despite what many say, is not just a frame of mind or an excuse to avoid writing. It is a plague that infects writers of all age, race, and stature. While there are no "cures" for writer's block, here are a few ideas that may help to release the flow of words.
Copy something - Sometimes just seeing words on the page will spark the muse. Take a few minutes to copy (by hand) or type definitions from the dictionary, an excerpt from the latest book you're reading, Bible verses, etc. It doesn't matter what you copy. Just get your mind and fingers engaged in the process. Pretty soon, you'll discover that you have some words of your own to contribute.
Keep a journal - Journaling is an excellent way to express your emotions, record your thoughts, keep track of writing ideas, or whatever else you can think of. Journaling is your private writing. You don't have to worry about spelling, grammar, or format. It is a time where you can simply allow your thoughts to run freely. Doing this daily helps keep you in the frame of mind for writing, plus it is an excellent stress reliever.
Talk about what you're writing - Whether it's to a friend or a family member, talking about your writing can often spark new ideas or angles that you hadn't thought of previously. If no one is around during your "hour of need," log on to some writing forums or chat rooms. Not only will you be likely to come up with some new thoughts, but some of the people you're talking with may have some interesting contributions as well.
Do writing prompts and exercises - When you're completely stuck on a project, sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away from it and write something else. Writing prompts are great. They set up a scene or situation, and then leave you to your writing. Sometimes the prompt will offer suggestions that you can use in your current project, but if not, it will still get your writing juices flowing, allowing you to soar over the bump of writer's block. Many writing websites offer free prompts and exercises.
Read - Have you ever been reading something completely unrelated to your writing when - BAM! -- a great concept came to you? That happens to me a lot. Somehow, getting my mind off of my writing allows my thoughts to become more clear and productive. It's strange, I know, but it works. When you're in the dark abyss of writer's block, turn to your favorite book and read for a while. Either you'll come up with something new, or you will have calmed yourself enough that the blinking cursor is no longer the terrifying monster it was thirty minutes ago.
There will be times when the words just won't come. Don't panic. Take some time to walk away. Do some stretches. Take a few deep breaths. Then, try some of the advice above. Whatever you do, don't give up! The words are there within you. It may just take a little time to get them out.
Bio: Dana Rongione is a full-time Christian freelance writer and writing coach living in Greenville, SC. Her work can be found in various online and offline magazines such as Devozine, Giggles and Grace, and Teachers of Vision. Her devotional book, The Deadly Darts of the Devil, is currently available at Amazon.com. Her blog, A Word Fitly Spoken, offers encouragement to Christians through inspirational stories and zany anecdotes while her blog, Learn Write Now, offers advice and instruction to writers everywhere.