How to get over your writer’s block: X-Minute Blog Posts

09/22/2010 By Shawn Burns

Sometimes I have a hard time thinking of things to write about. It happens most frequently after I’ve written something I’m either very proud of or that other people seem to like a lot. “Where am I going to go from here?” I ask myself.

Those posts seem definitive. They feel like statements of identity and then the rest of my thoughts feel pandering, vacuous, false and insincere. “I’ve already explained who I am, and what I am. What else can I say?”

Those feelings can overwhelm me into writing nothing at all. As someone who doesn’t claim to be a writer I can’t motivate myself by thinking of this as my art, or my passion, or my profession. I have no external reasons to do this writing. This blog isn’t even a “keep the family up to date on things” journal, so I rarely just sit down and tell everyone exactly what we’ve been doing lately. When I give up, that’s when you see picture posts or vacation recaps.

Writer’s block. (Or is it writers’ block? Is it the block belonging to one writer, standing in for all writers, or is it the block belonging to many writers? I have the same question about farmer’s markets. Farmers’ markets? Or is it a market of farmers? Farmers markets.) What do I do to get over it?

I have devised a technique, called X-Minute Blog Posts, that helps break the seal. I tell myself I’m going to write for exactly one, two ,five, or ten minutes (or however many I’ve decided I have time for) and then I just write whatever the first things to come into my head are. Sometimes it’s coherent; sometimes it’s a story, sometimes it’s pure description. Sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes it’s meowing. Sometimes it ends mid-sentence if I’m feeling especially strict and playful at the same time.

Most importantly it’s practice when I’ve no reason to be good. And then I can tell myself that my fingers still remember how to type, and that now the last thing I wrote is not an identity-defining piece that I need to one-up the next time I sit down. It’s some garbage that’s just sitting out there waiting to be surpassed by even mediocre effort.

Some people will give you writing prompts to help you get over your writer’s/writers’ block. I say prompts are boring. Be jazz. Improvise your way to brilliance.