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17 July 2013

Please enjoy this 12-year-old copy of “Newsweek.”

I’ve written before about how I work to defeat the dreaded “writer’s block.” It’s usually along the lines of “go do something else for a while,” like cleaning the house or napping (I’m a big fan of napping even if you’re not struggling with writer’s block, though). Usually, the answer is just to give your brain a bit of a break and come back to the work in a bit.

But what happens when you go do something else and the problem doesn’t work itself out? What if you’ve cleaned the house, then painted it, then put in new furniture, then repaired the foundation, then slept for three days, and you still can’t put one word after another?

I don’t claim to have any answers, and I can only tell you about my own personal experience. In my case, it always seems to come back eventually. Sometimes it takes days. Sometimes a few weeks. Sometimes, years. But a combination of slugging it out (just keep writing even if you’re not feeling it) and waiting it out (giving your brain plenty of chances to rest) seems to work for me.

Take this advice as you will, as I am the guy who didn’t finish anything for nearly a decade at one point. That had more to do with habit and pattern, though; I got into the pattern of not being able to do anything, so I just didn’t try after a while. There’s a danger for me in letting my brain rest for too long — it gets lazy very easily.

What’s your sure-fire way to defeat writer’s block? What’s the longest you’ve gone without finishing anything?


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