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Break through the Block

Most writers occasionally deal with writer’s block. Journalist Gene Fowler famously said, “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” A popular T-shirt defines writer’s block as “when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.” What causes that extraordinarily frustrating inability to write? How can you move past it?

New writers are often blocked because they fear that their work will not be perfect. That’s OK—no first draft is perfect. Just get the words down, then you at least have a starting point.

Occasionally, the problem is that you’re stuck at a particular section of writing. Move on to another section or chapter. Write the easy parts first, then come back and fill in the gaps.

Some blocked authors struggle with having too much information to convey or a very complex topic. When that occurs, find a single area of focus and let the rest go, or consider writing a series.

Other writers face the opposite problem; they have too little information. The solution here is straightforward: keep researching until you feel you have adequate information to get started. You may still need to track down the odd fact or two, but you can always insert queries to yourself in the text and circle back later.

Some writers lose interest in their project partway through. In such cases, you may be able to shift the topic or theme slightly to regain interest, or let go of a bad idea so you can start pursuing a better one.

Sometimes it’s helpful to step away for a while—take a walk, a nap, a shower, or otherwise focus on something else—then come back to writing.

Finally, some wannabe writers may like the notion of being a writer more than the actual work of writing. Finishing a book takes months or years of hard work, with no guarantee of publication or profit. If you really want to write, commit to learning and improving your craft. If you want to be a writer, write.

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