Words on a Page Writings about writing

Beat writer's block with a brain dump

A 'Road Closed' sign blocking the way

We’ve all been hit by writer’s block, or something like it, at one time or another. A certain mental paralysis that stops us from putting words on a page. It’s frustrating and can be worse than annoying.

Over the years, I’ve had a few bouts of writers block in one form of another. Thankfully, each of those bouts weren’t incredibly bad but they were enough to put a dent in my productivity and to jeopardize a deadline or three.

I’ve tried a number of things over the years to get around writer’s block. Some worked. Most didn’t.

In my case, even though I’m blocked the ideas and concepts and even the words are floating around in my head. They just won’t come out in the way that I want them to. You know what I’m talking about: those well-formed sentences and paragraphs that you aren’t ashamed to send to an editor or to post on the web.

And that can make the block worse. But a brain dump can be the best way around that.

Brain dump?

A brain dump is pretty much what it says: get everything out of your head and on to the screen or paper. Don’t worry about the structure or format or whether or not what’s in your head is coming out in complete sentences.

Fire up your favourite text editor or word processor, or grab a pad and some paper. Take a few deep breaths. Relax. And then let your fingers get to work. Let everything flow until all of the thoughts and ideas are on paper or screen.

Cleaning up

What you’ll wind up with will be a mess. But with any luck, that mental log jam will have loosened. You’ll have much of what you’ll need right in front of you; the rest should flow. If not flow, then trickle.

Now, all you need to do is edit, rewrite, and restructure. Which, as you know, are the secret to good writing.

It’s not as simple as it seems

Then again, nothing ever is …

It takes some time to be able to use this technique. Your first couple (or more) tries probably won’t be very effective. But don’t let that stop you.

Keep banging away until the technique works. And it will. Like anything else, it takes practice. But as you apply the technique, it becomes easier.

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