More on how to beat writer’s block

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a Robert Fulford article about writer’s block…

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, a recent piece in the National Post may grab your interest. Headlined, “The ‘self-punishing’ negative emotions that cause writer’s block can only be cured with a change in routine,” and written by Robert Fulford, the piece explores a variety of ways to cure the ailment.

Beginning with a description of famous writers who have suffered from it — Graham Greene (pictured above), Edmund Wilson and Joseph Mitchell — the piece presents suggestions such as consulting a psychotherapist, writing in different places and giving up on the idea of writing the piece in the final “order.” This, in fact, is the technique that Fulford used, and here is how he describes it:

Instead, you can begin with any passage that will likely be in the finished piece, even the ending. With that done, you are back in business. This was in the typewriter age, but when I acquired a computer it seemed as if it had been invented just for this method.

For me, I’ve found the best way to beat writer’s block — especially when writing a book — is to have an exquisitely small daily goal, but to never fail to meet it. Somehow, writing 250 to 500 words per day never seems daunting. But producing the 60,000 or more words required for a book seems nigh on impossible.

Yet if you write only 300 words per day, you’ll have reached that goal in less than a year!

Thanks to reader John Friesen for having drawn my attention to the National Post piece.


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