Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday Thirteen

Over the years, I have frequently experienced what some may call "writer's block." I never call it that; instead I refer to it as procrastination. I think for some it is fear, either of the process itself, or potential success or failure.

I have tried many different ways to stop my procrastination. Some of them work for a while. Nothing has been perfect and I am still trying to find ways to force myself to do the thing that I most want to do. Sometimes it feels like drowning even though I know how to swim.

Anyway, here are 13 ways to over come procrastination (or writer's block, if you prefer).

1. Do a notebook dump. This is most useful when you're writing nonfiction and have taken notes by hand. Typing up the notes from an interview or meeting usually will lend itself to a beginning paragraph. Generally, I never get all of my notes typed because I switch over to the writing process and begin the work.

2. Read a passage from another book and then take that to start your work. Using someone else's writing to get started is fine, so long as you go back eventually and change it. No plagiarizing in final drafts, please.

3. Write in a journal. Sometimes when I am stuck on a piece of writing, I write about the process of writing. Why might this particular part of a project be holding me up? What would make the story stronger?

4. Take a walk. While this sounds very much like procrastinating, and I suppose it is, sometimes you need to stop worrying over what you're writing and give your mind a break. A little exercise can do wonders for the thought process.

5. Perform your little rituals before you sit down. I know some writers have to have a clean space, or pencils lined up in a row, or their favorite T-shirt on. Whatever it is that brings your muse to you, make sure you have it ready.

6. Turn off all distractions, including the Internet. You don't need to look at Facebook every hour nor do you need to know when your email comes in. If necessary, go buy a typewriter. Yes, I am talking old school! Or use a piece of paper and a pen.

7. Read the newspaper and write a piece of fiction about whatever news item catches your attention.

8. Take a shower. Some of my best ideas come to me in the shower, I have no idea why. Maybe your ideas come to you when you vacuum or do the dishes. Again, spur on that muse.

9. Write in a different genre. If you're writing a mystery, try a little fantasy. If you're working on nonfiction, try some poetry.

10. Do something creative that doesn't involve writing. Maybe painting or photography is your thing. Do you play guitar? Blow the trumpet? Step away from the keyboard and see if playing a little Dylan will free up a few brain cells.

11. Look at photographs or painted pictures and write about what you see. How does the picture make you feel? What would it make your character feel?

12. Don't finish the sentence before you stop for the next day. This works well for me if I'm working on a long piece. I leave the sentence half written, and then I absolutely have to finish it the next time I sit down to work. And that is often enough to get me started on the next line or paragraph, and then I'm off into the story.

13. Create an outline. Outlines can be helpful because, like a notebook dump, they give you something to work with besides the images in your brain. You already have words on the paper.

And here's an extra:

Dictate your story. I recently bought a digital tape recorder and started using it to talk to myself when things cross my mind about stories. Then I go back and listen, take notes on anything good or interesting, and ditch the file.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here. I've been playing for a while and this is my 386th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.


  1. I like to go for the walk out even sit outside. Sometimes I go through old notebooks looking for ideas that I didn't follow through with. Other times I start writing about what the procrastination/block feels like. #6 so true and a real distraction.

  2. I like to go for the walk out even sit outside. Sometimes I go through old notebooks looking for ideas that I didn't follow through with. Other times I start writing about what the procrastination/block feels like. #6 so true and a real distraction.

  3. Showers and beds are notorious places for getting good ideas. The problem is capturing them before you lose them. I've tried keeping a notebook on the nightstand, but I'm never clear eyed enough to write and my husband complains about the light. The shower is even worse. By the time I've got the soap out of my eyes, the idea's gone.

  4. Some good suggestions, Anita. My T13

  5. Taking a shower definitely works for me! :)


    My TT is at

  6. Excellent tips! I especially like the one about finding another creative outlet like painting to work on when you feel a lack of words coming on. Great idea!

  7. #2 intrigues me. I'll have to try that. I wonder about dictation. I speak so differently from how I write. (Fewer curse words.)

  8. Those are some great ideas!


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