A Discussion on Writer’s Block
Written by Kseniya Lukiy
Contributing Editor of Red Cedar Review
Writer’s block can be described as the temporary inability to produce quality work. Most creative endeavors, like writing, are often initiated by self-motivation, making a dry spell an incredibly discouraging and frustrating period of time. The catalyst of writer’s block is often the pressure to write, whether it’s essential to one’s education or career. The pressure appears when there are deadlines or expectations to be met, when there is risk attached to the production of the promised work. Writer’s block is often the fear of producing something that does not live up to certain standards. Unfortunately, under most circumstances, many simply cannot bypass the dry spell by writing only when inspired. The following are my helpful techniques to sustain your creative momentum and to prevent writer’s block altogether.
Defining writer’s block and its causes can make combating it more efficient. Replacing inspiration with discipline is a long-term solution touted by many creatives. Setting aside not only enough time to write daily but enough time to start before the deadline is vital. By providing that set time for yourself, the pressure and stress experienced will reduce in proportion to your progress. The comfort of establishing a consistent habit comes from the ability to surrender to the days when you will have nothing of quality to show, so long as you put in the time again the next day. Author Erin Bow uses the concept of recycling to demonstrate how no work is wasted during the process of production. Whey, tomatoes, and yeast are all recycled to sustain their environments, just as unused work may be recycled to sustain creative momentum and make space for the work that will be used. Bow states, “No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”
Writing prompts are another well-known technique to help kick-start the process, but forsomeone out of practice, prompts may also provoke a standstill. Many writers may indulge in the freedom of an ambiguous prompt, but others may become overwhelmed with choice. By narrowing down the premise of an activity, you are forced to think creatively under certain guidelines. For example, choose an album and try to incorporate the track listing into a cohesive story. If you own spare books that you do not intend to read, consider creating blackout poetry on their pages. Opting for a more straightforward and well-defined activity is like playing in a sandbox, surrounded by the playground of possibilities. Thinking inside the box can slowly provoke the creativity to think outside of it.
Lastly, consuming literature with wild abandon is always encouraged. Don’t pretend you don’t have to read to write well. If you’ve neglected your appetite, the amount you can take in will not be what it used to be. Start with reading a few pages, a few more the next day, maybe a chapter the day after that. Let your hunger grow until only finishing the book would satiate you. Exercising your hunger only makes space for writing, and that’s when a new cycle begins: the consumption of your work. With National Poetry Month upon us, Instagram accounts will provide daily prompts for their followers to participate in a writing activity for the duration of the month. The most well-known prompt account that I follow belongs to author and poet Savannah Brown. Established in 2019, Escapril is an annual month-long writing session in which Brown releases a shortlist of writing prompts for participants to draw inspirational from and write about throughout the month of April. Not A Cult Media’s Instagram account also posts occasional writing prompts created by poet Rhiannon McGavin. Overall, there is an endless amount of writing communities that can easily be found with a simple hashtag search that are always looking for more participants. Engaging with an online community by reading and sharing work can be a great way to help hold yourself accountable every day.
they’ve simply mastered how to prevent it, and you can too. By committing to the habit of writing, consuming fresh literature, and keeping a few techniques at hand to generate new ideas, writer’s block can be prevented before it temporarily paralyzes anyone’s long-term creativity.
Dismantling the concept of writer’s block before offering personal advice and techniques on how to combat it, Kseniya Lukiy discusses the frustrating phenomenon amongst writers and how to prevent it.