For My Fellow Blocked Writers

by Dakota Lopes

Submissions for the Bridge are closed, however, that doesn’t mean you should stop writing! In the spirit of me starting my senior year thesis, and because I have some of the world’s worst writer’s block, I am assembling a collection of great writing exercises that you can try to start filling up the word count.

1. Steal a Style

One of the most perplexing things to do when writing is coming up with your own style, your own voice; and one of the easiest things to do while writing is steal. This combines the two. I was introduced to this exercise during a creative writing workshop some time ago. The goal is to take a scene from a book or story and make it your own, all while keeping the same style and form. You do this by replacing every word in the scene but by keeping an identical structure. Replace verbs with verbs, adjectives with adjectives, and so on. Tell a different story in someone else’s style. This is in the hope that by recognizing patterns in others’ writing, you can learn more about how style can affect a text.

2. 60 Second Writing Challenge

This is always one of my favorites. The goal of this is to, surprise, write a story in 60 seconds. To get started, take 2 random nouns and write something that incorporates the two. Time yourself and be honest, the best medication for writers block is a deadline. If you want some random ones to get started immediately here are some combinations of nouns that I have created stories out of in the past. Have fun and get creative!

-Squirrel, Zombie
-Walrus, Tuxedo
-Shovel, Piano

3. Back to the Basics

Sometimes people get caught up in grandiose ideas and try to intellectually challenging works that can get extremely overwhelming.  While sometimes getting simpler can help you get started on the page. Although intellectually stimulating work is important and interesting, it is not all of what makes writing engaging for the reader. What gets people emotionally interested in work is drama. Put two people in a room, make them talk, and give them conflict. It seems boring, but see how you can make this type of setting work. Don’t worry about the big stuff like themes and allegory, just give two people some drama.

Remember, you are supposed to like writing, that’s why you do it. So, if you find yourself avoiding the keyboard, then give yourself a reason to go back, make it a game with yourself and test the limits of what you can do to keep the brain pumping out the incredible stories I know you can create. If you are like me and suffer from an extreme case of writer’s block, then I hope this helps you out a little bit. Now get writing!

(Realizing now that me writing this editorial is really just a long winded way to ignore writing my thesis, points for being self-aware.)

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