So, you’ve just heard that The Mochila Review’s submissions are going to open October 1st, right? You get excited—this is the year that you’re going to get published, you just know it—and sit down at your computer to write. Nothing comes to you. You get up, put on a pot of coffee, dig through your fridge for the 18th time, and sit back down in front of your computer; still nothing.
You’ve got a bad case of writer’s block, and you don’t know what to do next (besides cry). Well, I have good news for you: there are ways to overcome writer’s block. The first way is to figure out what is causing your imagination to be stunted. There are many common causes, however, there are three major ones that most fit into:
- Your timing is not right. Ideas take time to stew within your brain, to gain momentum, and take off like a lightening streak across the sky. Try again in a couple hours.
- Many writers are afraid that their ideas are not good enough to be published, or that the critics of their piece will crush them.
- Several writers (myself included) procrastinate to the last moment because they want their ideas to be perfect in their head before they sit down and spell them out on paper.
If you do not fit into one of these categories, do not despair—many writers before you have been stumped by their own imagination.
So, now that we know we have a problem, how do we solve it? It is impossible to find a fix-all for it, because every person—and imagination—is different. However, there are some tricks and tips to getting the juices flowing again:
- Stop trying to force ideas for the sake of getting a piece finished.
- Train. Sit down to write at the same time, same place every day for a week. Tradition says that this is called “training your muse,” and is said to cause the writer’s block to disappear.
- Stop worrying about being published—worry about getting all of your ideas down onto a sheet of paper. Later, you can go back and make the rough rock into a shiny diamond to send to us.
- Go for a walk. Yes, this sounds exhausting and like it won’t work, but you’ll be amazed at how good it feels to not stare at a blank sheet of paper for a while.
- Eliminate distractions. This means you might have to turn off that country station, tell your kid to watch a movie, or make your significant other go hide in the bathtub for a while.
- Write. Sit down, and write about anything. Start with your surroundings, then go to the outside world, and then try to write a poem, short story, or piece of nonfiction to send into us.
Good luck and keep writing,
Copy-editor of The Mochila Review