writer’s block

Today I bring you a fab little vimeo, a mash up of various films showing writers in difficulty. It’s by Ivan Kander and Ben Watts.

Tap tap tap  on the keyboard the writers go. Pace, pace around the room. Waste bin filling up, filling up …

So that made you feel better right? Nothing like seeing other people having trouble getting started – well sometimes. But how good is it that they overcame the impasse and eventually wrote? A lot. Fast. So fast.

Just as we all do. Eventually.

If you want to help yourself out of a writing impasse then you could do what the vimeo writers did. Or you could try:

(1) writing to get unstuck – using prompts to help you approach the task sideways


(2) using powerpoint slides to sketch out a basic plan of what you want to write, before you actually start on that vexatious first draft


(3) talking things out first with an amenable consenting adult


(4) just doing some more focused writing for thinking.

Often, it is just a matter of not giving up, as the vimeo mashup so clearly demonstrates.

But it’s very helpful to understand that these are probably just temporary blockages – everyone gets a bit stuck on some things, and that includes me. This is not the same as a more persistent writer’s block.

Real writer’s block is a comparative rarity. But most people do have times when it’s hard to get going.  A real writer’s block may require specific  corrective strategies from a professional. But some people do have something in between  – see this post which includes Robert Boice’s four step plan developed, as a desensitisation technique, for those who have more serious “can’t write” issues.

For the rest of us, it’s finding our way through the temporary halt.

About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
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4 Responses to writer’s block

  1. Olga Walker says:

    Fantastic post – I have just spent hours and hours today trying to get started on my Literature review…I have a lot of information, but that first sentence…o.m.g…well after the whole morning in the study, I decided on an early lunch, then came back to the computer but I only lassted ten minutes.Nothing was firing in the brain. So, then I went outside and moved some wood closer to the house, and I came back to the computer and knew straightaway where I needed to go to get some technical type help…since then (4 hours) I have sorted out how to structure my Literature Review…and that vimeo mashup captured everything for me:):)

    So, thanks very much


  2. Jane S says:

    O, nostalgia! Remember those sit-up-and-beg typewriters? 🙂
    Assuming one’s not up against a deadline, abandoning an immovable project for a while and doing something else works for me. A writer’s experience: “I mentioned … that I had gone away to write for a week and … had given up on a book I’d been working on for a few years and decided to write something different. My co-conversationalist considered this a very brave and decisive action, which surprised me rather as it seemed to me to be an entirely pragmatic and sensible one. There is also the knowledge that giving up on a book is far from irreversible’ (‘Stroppy Author’s Guide to Publishing,’ © 19 June 2016, http://www.stroppyauthor.com/2016/06/on-giving-up-and-giving-in.html) In our day and age, files can sit there on your computer until you’re inspired to go back to ’em, and whole forests are saved from the waste paper bin.


  3. Biblioteca Carlos Albizu Miranda says:

    Reblogged this on Library Competencies.


  4. Pingback: Reading, writer’s block, and creativity | Academic Emergence

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