Writing Wednesday: Breaking through writer’s block

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crushed paper - writer's block - crumpled paper with unfocused background

My kids and I were playing a game yesterday that later I thought could be a great way to break through writer’s block. We tell a story one line at a time, with each person coming up with the next line. The next person has to repeat what the previous person said and say, “…because…” and then add their own line. The result is a story told in reverse.

Our game started like this: The boy was crying. The boy was crying because…he dropped his peanut butter sandwich. He dropped his peanut butter sandwich because…he was startled. He was startled because…there was a fire behind him. There was a fire because…it was a forest fire. There was a forest fire because… etc. We quickly made the rule that aliens could at no point enter the story, because it was all too easy to attribute anything and everything to aliens. Otherwise, anything was fair game.

I thought this method could be a great way to work through writer’s block. The name “writer’s block” implies you’ve come up against a barrier and you can no longer move forward. By taking a step back and attempting to explain “…because,” you turn the story in a different direction, add reasons and meaning, perhaps some backstory, and hopefully move your way around the blockage.

What are your tricks for working around writer’s block?

2 thoughts on “Writing Wednesday: Breaking through writer’s block

  1. I studied what is called, “Proprioceptive Writing” in the early 90s, and use it often…and it is similar to the because…and uses the phrase, “What do I mean by.”

    It was a groundbreaking workshop for me and writing.

  2. Write the next sentence. That’s really it. Helpful is also to understand where the fears will cause me to slam on the breaks. At the moment I’m struggling with fear of the ending. So all I can do is plow slowly forward and type the next sentence.

    But it’s also important not to go for perfect, like you see on TV where the blocked writer types “He went to the store,” says that’s no good, tears the paper out of the typewriter and throws it into the trash. Then he types it slightly different, and the process repeats itself. What words you use don’t matter. Readers don’t analyze that you used happy instead of glad. They’re coming to read the story.

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