Breaking the Block: A Technique for Dealing with Writer’s Block

I have been trying to get back into writing, and I found myself a bit . . . stymied.  Okay, you caught me.  I had major writer’s block.  Sometimes, doing a free write can help to break that block, so I searched the Internet for some quick writing prompts.  I found this list of writing prompts from The Daily Post.  This prompt was particularly effective in helping me smash that block because it felt like a game rather than writing (if that makes sense), so I wanted to share it and my response with you.  I highly suggest free writing if you find yourself banging your head against your table because the words are not coming to you as easily as you think that they should be.

You never know what might blossom out of a free write. Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

You never know what might blossom out of a free write.
Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

Prompt: “There are 26 letters in the English language, and we need every single one of them. Want proof? Choose a letter and write a blog post without using it. (Feeling really brave? Make it a vowel!)”

Challenge accepted! I choose to write a post without using the letter, “i.” *gasp*

Where monsters dwell, and legends are true, you can observe a small creature who ducks between the bushes and trees. He jumps and hops, and struggles to see over the flora and to get peek at you—you the stranger who now stands before the teeny creature. The purple and blue feathers on the creature’s back sparkle and almost enchant you. He hums a tune that haunts the land, but be not scared for he only hums to greet you. The creature does not boast or brag as the other monsters do. Rather, the creature’s makeup encompasses of only sweetness, modesty, fun, and goodness. But he spends days lonesome and unhappy because he stands out amongst the mean and cruel monsters. He hopes to make a pal who does not resemble such foul characters. He wants you to be a crony, a buddy, a comrade. So lay down your weapons and fears, and open your heart and arms to the small creature who only wants to be loved.

What? There was no rule that the story must be true.

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20 thoughts on “Breaking the Block: A Technique for Dealing with Writer’s Block

  1. Wow this was pretty good, considering you didn’t use “i”. There is some fun in this, I can tell, because of the challenged it posed and you coped with it very well 🙂 Maybe I’ll take a leaf out of your book and do this letter challenge when the time comes for my short story post!

    • Thank you very much. I did have fun doing it, and it got me into a good rhythm that I then used for my other writing. I think that the next time I do this, I’ll try not using “e.” :O I look forward to reading your upcoming short story post. 🙂

      • It’s not really upcoming per se, I’m just considering my procrastination levels and creativity 🙂 But I’ll definitely hope to write something as good as yours!

      • Thanks. 🙂 I’m sure that you will write something better though. I have trouble with procrastination too. Have you tried setting a time aside where you have to write and you don’t allow yourself to do anything else? That’s the only way I can fight the procrastination. :/

      • Nah, I don’t set aside writing times because that will make my writing forced. The only time when I sit down and write is when I get a very very good idea which has ticked all the boxes in my mind and I just write as much as I can. Other than that, I don’t do any sort of writing or practising even though I should.

      • Ooo, I love it when ideas come that “tick all the boxes.” Writing is really, really fun then. Good luck, and I hope that all the boxes get ticked for that short story. I’m sure that it will be great. 🙂

  2. Elizabeth! LOVED this. It reminded me so much of S. Thomas Summers writing on Writing With Some Ink and a Hammer. I’ve seen a few people do this exercise, but not with as much panache as you did. Awesome!

    • Thank you, and thank you for the read and follow! Maybe my next free write that doesn’t use any “e”s will be the sequel to this story . . . . :O I look forward to reading your story. 🙂

  3. Every story starts with a free-write, for me. I start with just what comes to mind for 10 min. Then if I hit on an idea, I free-write on topic with no time limit. I’ve also learned–the hard way– to write down ideas immediately, before it disappears into . . . wherever they go. I find going through my notes helps. Another thing I do is write descriptions of places, I sometimes build a whole story around a description I wrote years ago.

    • I never thought to do a free write of describing a place. That’s really neat. I hope that you don’t mind if I use your idea for the next time I sit down and write. 🙂 I was wondering, do you do your writing mostly on the computer or do you find that writing with a pen and paper help the ideas to flow more for you than a computer does?

      • I take my journal everywhere and write descriptions of what I see. Then use them to fill out stories. I do the first draft with pen and paper, transpose it to the computer and do the rest from printouts. I find it easier to work with the hard copies when revising. I like to read it backwards a couple of times which allows me to isolate each sentence. Then I read it through and read it aloud over and over until I see myself putting in and taking out the same comma. that’s when I know I’ve done all I can do with it. I hope that answered your question.

      • It definitely answered my question, thank you. 🙂 I’m the same with revising. I have to print it out and revise on a hard copy. For some reason, my brain just edits better that way than if I only use the computer. I’ll have to try the journal technique. I never thought of using descriptions to fill in stories like that. That’s really cool. I’ll have to try the backward technique too. Thank you for the ideas! 🙂

      • The other thing I do when freewriting is I freewrite on topic. I just put down what comes to mind on the subject, then, later, I try to put it in to some kind of form. Another thing I sometimes do is a thing call “clustering”: write the subject down in the middle of the page and surround it with words that are related to the subject, then freewrite on each word. Other times I freewrite on who, what, when, where, how. I think if you try these, you’ll get the juices flowing.

      • Those are great ideas! Thank you very much for sharing them. I’m going to try them all, and I’m most excited about the “clustering” technique. I’ve never tried it before, but I think that it will yield good results. Thank you!

      • I almost forgot, after you read backwards, making your corrections as you go, next read the piece aloud. You’ve made your corrections to isolated sentences, now you need to make sure they still work with the sentences around them, that they still flow. That’s important.

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