Getting back on the writing horse

1320659_49661712-horse-and-cartI make a good chunk of my living as a freelance writer and editor.

Last year, we had multiple deaths in the family, and all things writing just slid for a while while we dealt with grief, illness, and funeral planning.

When unexpected things happen to a freelancer, picking up where you left off can be hard to do. Normalcy returns and the grey areas of life give you the chance to get back to writing and earning, but a lot of times, you’re still in a slump.

Here are some ways to beat the block:


1. Pick a prompt, any prompt.

It sounds deceptively simple, but I promise you, random prompting is one of the best things you can do to overcome writer’s block. It’s true whether your block is caused by forced circumstances or an inspirational dry spell.

One of my favorite tools for self-prompting is located here. Many a short story has seen its creation at my keyboard because of this little toy. But do yourself a favor and REALLY keep the first prompt that shoots out at you–otherwise, you’re picking, and that nullifies the entire point and process of surprising your brain. Remember, I’m trying to get you over writer’s block, not just sending you to a website to refresh prompts and create more and more evidence of your hurdle.

I also recommend, of course, my company’s own line of books written expressly for this purpose. We call them “Hook Books”, and each book features a collection of picture and text prompts to get you going. Check them out by clicking here.

2. Start with a letter to yourself.

I had to kickstart back into the habit last time by writing a letter to myself about everything that’s been going on, why I quit writing temporarily, and how that was okay–life is bigger than words once in a while.

Get your feelings, literary or otherwise, out of your system and onto your paper. Keep trucking. Keep them, save them, sell them, whatever; but write it down and move on. Life’s too short to live the same frustrations over and over.

3. Join or attend a writer’s meeting.

Here in my own area, my favorite by far is the Nashville Writers Meetup, but there are tons of others, too.

Run a Google search or call your local college campus, library, or arts commission, and they can likely give you a list to get you going–or even information on how to start your own. It’s probably not as hard as you think it is; just find a venue (living rooms and libraries are always great options), get a free ad in the paper or on the radio, and chat with the folks who happen to come. That’s all there is to it, really.

There isn’t a writer’s meeting I’ve been to yet (and I’ve been going for years) that hasn’t resulted in my scribbling down at least a dozen new title ideas from captured bits of conversation, websites to check for resources, or projects to become a part of. That’s the nature of artistic support, and that’s what it’s for. Use it.

Whatever your process, the most important thing, as the cliche would suggest, is to get back on the horse. There’s nothing to do but start!


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