Friday, October 17, 2008
A trick for beating writer's block
Sometimes it can be very tough to type the first word. Sooner or later "writer's block" affects most people who have to write -- professionals as well as school kids.
It can be caused by a complete lack of creative inspiration, or by fear of writing the wrong thing, by hatred of the subject matter, by depression, or even by an uncomfortable chair or a keyboard or monitor at the wrong height. The blockage can last for minutes, hours, days or even longer.
Perhaps the worst case of writer's block involved Henry Roth (photo). His Call It Sleep was published in 1934. After its publication his writing was blocked and he worked as a firefighter, metal grinder, mental nurse, poultry farmer and teacher. His next book was published in 1979.
For a school kid, writer's block might mean an "F" on a term paper.
For a professional writer, the effects can be much worse. I was fired from my first job as assistant editor of a magazine when I had a two-week dry spell.
Since I don't want that to happen to anyone else, I hereby offer a simple and proven trick that should avoid the failure or the firing.
If you can't write the first sentence or first paragraph, JUST SKIP IT.
Start with the second sentence, or second paragraph, and just keep on writing.
Often the beginning of what you have to write is an introduction. So once you've finished writing everything else, it will be much easier to go back and write the introduction because now you'll know what you're introducing.