Freewriting Exercise – Learn From Your Writer’s Block

This exercise is broken into a variety of subcomponents that are catered to specific ways of applying freewriting as a means of learning from your writer’s block.

Your writer’s block is not quite the same as someone else’s writer’s block. It also might not be as different or as unique as you think.

Why learn from your writer’s block?

Don’t I already hear enough from my writer’s block? Why do I want to actually spend time thinking about writer’s block?

The thinking is part of the problem.

Thinking about writer’s block is like trying to unravel a tightly wound ball of Christmas lights using only your mind.

Maybe you can visualize it unraveling, but it isn’t going to make any difference in the physical world.

My hope is to help writers unblock themselves by engaging the process of freewriting. And by moving around in the physical world.

You have a body. You are not just a mind. Your body affects your thinking way way way more than you might always suspect.

The same is true with your emotions. Maybe sometimes you can make yourself do something when you don’t feel like it. And maybe sometimes there is a softer strategy.

Can you charm yourself to write when you don’t feel like it?

Not all writer’s block manifests as a 100%-bonafide-full-stop block. Some days it might feel like your ideas have dried out. You just don’t feel enthused. Or you feel overwhelmed. Strangled. Scared. Confused.

It doesn’t mean you have to face a total stop to creative flow for life to be miserable as a writer.

If you have ever really had a fantastic writing session — even a single one — then some part of you remembers what that felt like. And it’s only natural to want that good feeling again.

To want more flow.

This exercise gets you to learn something new about yourself by seeing the world through the lens of your writer’s block.

What does your writer’s block want to show you?

There are a few factors here. Whether you:

  • Feel like writing (are inspired, feel pulled towards, charmed, seduced)
  • Need to write (forceful, pushed by obligation, made to)

And whether you:

  • Make yourself write
  • Find a strategy to get yourself interested in writing

I’m not going to say there is a single right way to defeat writer’s block. It’s all about what works and what feels best for you both in the short and long term.

The exercise gets you to freewrite for ten minutes based on the following prompts. You don’t have to answer them exactly, and you don’t have to answer all of them, and you can respond to them in any order, too.

Use these questions as a jumping-off point to stir things up and make some discoveries about the way you engage with writing and how writer’s block can sometimes manifest.

If you simply park yourself in front of your laptop and start typing away, what happens?
What does it feel like?

When you tell yourself that you want to write, and you make yourself write, what happens?
What does it feel like?

What does it feel like to write when you don’t feel like it?

What are some ways you do/can coerce yourself to feel like writing even when you don’t feel like writing?

If your writer’s block was a kind of person, what kind of character would it be? Feel into your writer’s block and describe it in terms of a character. It’s likely you have more than one writer’s block character. For example, maybe one kind of writer’s block manifests as an angry toddler that refuses and says “NO! I don’t want to.” And maybe another kind of block manifests as a rebellious teenager who is so certain that nobody could possibly understand it.

What are some strategies to appease the inner toddler / teenager that rebels and doesn’t want to write?

When you tell yourself to write, do you really need to?

What does your inner taskmaster want?

When you want to write and you feel blocked, what happens when you write anyway?

How does that feel?

Wrap-up

After your brief session of writing without stopping, stop a moment and just feel what you feel.

When you read through and reflect on your writing, does anything stand out that can work as a strategy for coercing yourself to write when you feel blocked? If you are willing to engage writing in a different way are there any unmet needs that you could meet through your writing?

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