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Magic #50

At the root of all writer's block? Fear. You'll recognize it by the questions you ask yourself when you sit down to write: Can Ireally finish an entire story? Am I a good enough writer to pull this off? Will this story matter to anyone? Or am I wasting my time? And what if I sound dumb?But the specific fear doesn't matter if you know how to soothe it. Here's what to do: Lie down. On the couch. In bed. In the tub (Hey, don't knock it! Sometimes it's the only place writers can find some time alone!). Lie down where it's comfortable and quiet, and write fifty words.That's it.Either the exercise helps you break through the anxiety, and you keep writing. Or you have fifty words more than you had yesterday, and you try again tomorrow. Either way, lie down and write fifty words.

No Vowel

Write a passage without the letter "E" or "A." This is known as a lipogram and has been used by authors in many languages to write their novels. You will use unusual sentence constructions, and it may slow you down for a while, but it will certainly force your brain to work in different ways.

The Power of Words

Write a list of random, free-association words. For creative writing, list ten words across ten columns. Then go to each column and add nine more words so that the result is ten columns and ten rows, a total of one hundred words. Just reading the list and noticing the creative leaps your mind has made may surprise you. If you like, continue the exercise by using all one hundred words in a short fiction piece. For poetry, select the words that suggest a common theme.

Eight

Pick a fiction book from your shelf. Go to page eight and find the eighth sentence on the page. Start with that sentence and write an eight-line poem that connects in some way to your work-in-progress. For instance, write from the POV of a character, or set the poem in a story setting. Don't worry about poetry forms. Just write eight lines of any length that flow and explore some aspect of character, setting, or theme.

Break Through The Block

Think of writer's block as a symptom, not a condition that can't be remedied. When we're stuck and can't get to our creative work, there's usually a reason - and therefore a way to move forward.If you're experiencing a block and can't seem to work on your novel, try the following:

  1. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths. Connect.
  2. How do you feel?
  3. Nervous because you're coming up on a tough scene?
  4. Starting to wonder why you embarked on this project?
  5. Bored with sticking to your thorough outline and not wanting to admit it?
Feel what you're feeling without attaching or rationalizing or arguing. Now, refocus on your breath. Imagine gentle snow or waves. When you're calm inside, grab a notebook and pen (computers can amplify pressure instead of opening room for free scribbling) and write without stopping for three minutes, starting with the prompt, "I'm not blocked becauseÄ" After that, go for another three minutes, using, "The path back to my writing looks likeÄ" Let yourself go. Let your hand tell you whatever you need to hear.