Writer’s Block

by Carol Teichgrab

Got writer’s block? Singer-songwriter John Mayer makes communication look easy with this verse from his recent hit “Say”:

         You better know that in the end
         It’s better to say too much
         Than to never say what you need to
say again
         Say what you need to say
         Say what you need to say…..

A quick online search leads to an abundance of help for those who are blocked. Resources for everyone from songwriters to communication specialists, as well as entire magazines and books are devoted to this issue. Check out UW Bothell’s Writing Center page and click on “other writing resources” for many useful links to help you get “unblocked.”

Purdue University‘s Online Writing Lab, OWL, offers expert help for virtually any aspect of writing. Their suggestions for overcoming writers block include:

-Deep breathing, rest and exercise to help calm and clear the mind

-If the “textbook formula” of writing a thesis, making an outline, writing rough and final drafts fail, ask yourself these questions: What is my purpose? Why would anyone want to read my work, and why do I want to write it? Your answers may help you discover the “so what?” of the subject at hand and get the ideas flowing.

Need more inspiration? Try:

  • Brainstorming by writing down everything you already know about a topic including questions that come to mind as you write
  • Imagining what you would say if you were teaching a class on this topic
  • Talking with your audience so that you consider the subject from other perspectives

Writing consultants often echo John Mayer’s sentiments by suggesting writing a seriously rough draft. This often relieves the pressure of saying the right thing and enables ideas to flow. Once the block is gone, it becomes easier to strengthen your message and delete the rest.


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