Guest Post—Frank Ball “Make Writer’s Block Disappear”

I’m honored to share this insightful post from Frank Ball with you all. The SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference in June was a delightful time and I hope to see many of you again next year…

What is Writer’s Block?

Merriam-Webster calls writer’s block “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.” While that definition is accurate, we might expand our insight into what is really happening with our “psychological inhibitions.”

What is the inhibition? Every time a thought comes to mind, it doesn’t fit. It’s not good enough. Since the mind is rejecting everything, it faces the impossible dream: writing something that isn’t there.

So let’s look at what is possible.

Inspiration can be a long time arriving.

Leigh Michaels says, “Waiting for inspiration is like standing at the airport waiting for a train.” If we want that brilliant idea, we should go find it, not wait for it to find us.

Think of it as searching for lost treasure. It’s out there. You just have to find it.

Out of the rubbish come treasures.

Accumulate enough bad ideas, and you’ll discover one that’s not so bad. And that idea can stir thoughts that might be even better.

If bad ideas lead to good ideas, then there are no truly bad ideas, are there? So don’t let your brain reject any thought. All of them have value, so don’t throw them away, not yet. Pile them up until something worthwhile begins to surface. Then develop that thought.

Be a writer, not a waiter.

Write something. Anything. If you don’t know how to start, write something in the middle, and let the attention-grabbing opening hook come later. Maybe the ending comes to mind. If so, there’s no rule that says you can’t start there.

At some point, your piece will need structure. Blueprints may be needed for building houses, but it’s okay to write various pieces to a story and later decide how they all fit together.

Keep writing stuff. Lots of stuff. You then have a resource for keeping the best. You can trash the rest or save it for something else.

Making mistakes is how we get it right.

Robert Fritz says, “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly until you can do it well.” The problem with writer’s block is insisting on having everything exactly right at the start. Let yourself be a kid again. Pick any Crayola, random thought, or silly word you want. Forget the rules and let yourself go outside the lines. In the formative, creative, inspirational stage, everything doesn’t have to make sense.

Enjoy being yourself. Have fun.

The more you write, the better the odds that your words will flow more freely. But not always. When they don’t, write something wrong, which is sure to lead to something better.

Break Your Routine.

Your usual road to work, church, and the store may be the quickest route, but that scene offers nothing new, so your mind doesn’t even notice what’s there. Take a detour, and your mind will say, What’s going on here? I’ve not seen this before. Reverse your normal direction for a walk in the park, and you’ll wonder how the same area can look so different. It’s all a matter of changing perspective, which excites the mind.

Get Out More, Asking Questions.

In the restaurant, at the store, or in any public place, watch the strangers. Are they happy or sad? What are they saying? Or why are they so quiet? Behind every face is a story. Have they suffered a tragic loss or must adjust to a new challenge? Each person presents something new to write about.