How to Get Rid of Writer's Block

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Amanda Gorman is the United States' youngest inaugural poet, and even as a professional writer, she frequently suffers from writer's block. Here are her suggestions for overcoming writer's block.


Amanda Gorman: Who Is She?

Amanda Gorman is the first-ever US Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest inaugural poet in US history. She made her debut on the national stage of the United States when she read her poem "The Hill We Climb" at President Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021, in Washington, DC.

Amanda began writing at the age of five in Los Angeles, California. Amanda realized she could use poetry to overcome her speech impediment after being diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder at a young age. She joined the Los Angeles-based creative writing nonprofit WriteGirl at the age of fourteen, where she learned to conduct poetry close readings, workshop her own early poems, and gain the confidence to translate her voice to the page and project it publicly.


What Is Writer's Block?

Writer's block is a common phenomenon that occurs when writers become stuck in the writing process; it can be an overwhelming feeling that prevents them from moving forward and writing anything new. Writer's block can result from a larger issue, such as difficulty with plot or character, or from a smaller issue, such as difficulty finding the right words to describe a scene. While there are many different causes of writer's block, and overcoming this roadblock requires different solutions depending on the individual, many writers have recommendations and strategies to help you overcome writer's block and return to work.


Amanda Gorman's Tips for Overcoming Writer's Block

It's completely normal to feel uninspired when writing. "I'm published; I'm a spoken word artist, and I constantly get writer's block," Amanda explains. Here are some of her suggestions for overcoming writer's block and getting words on the page:

Activate the appropriate brain signals. According to Amanda, having a few rituals around your writing time can help you get your creative juices flowing. "Perhaps you have a set playlist you listen to when you're writing. Maybe you have a routine, like lighting a candle when you write. "Perhaps you're drinking a particular flavor of tea," she speculates. Your brain will be able to switch into writing mode more easily if you create a ritual around your writing routine.

Commit fully to a writing practice.  Amanda suggests creating a writing schedule to help motivate you to work hard. "The more you can structure and carve out time in your life that's set and specific and guarded and safe where you can write," she says, "the less likely you'll have writer's block." "Think about the time, place, and style in which you want to continue writing and revisiting this work." And try to do it for at least ten minutes every day." Regular writing sessions will help you commit to working hard on your project.

Freewrite. Amanda says that sometimes all she needs to start a new project is to sit down at a blank page and do a writing exercise. "I just write the alphabet until an idea comes to me," she says. "Alternatively, I'll record the sounds or noises I hear in the room." I'll just write a stream of consciousness [section] as a way of signaling to my brain that it's okay to fail here. It's fine to experiment here. It's okay to be messy right now because it's the mess that will get me writing." Make a list of writing prompts that will help you get your brain going when you're feeling stuck.

Go out. It may seem counterintuitive, but sitting down at a blank page isn't always the best place to find inspiration. "Inspiration typically comes... when I'm living through the world as a human being," Amanda says, "which is why I say that procrastination and having time away from the page is actually really helpful as a writer." If you're stuck, take a break and look for inspiration elsewhere before returning to your short story or poem.

Let go of perfectionism. Amanda recommends letting go of perfectionism and embracing the creative process in order to get your first draft on the page. "One of the most common causes of writer's block isn't a lack of ideas; it's a fear of saying them," she explains. "It means that as we stare at that blank sheet, we're concerned about whether what we have to say is valuable, whether our voice, what we're writing, is good." Allow your fears to go and allow the first draft of your writing project to be rough.

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