Sunday, May 24, 2009

Breaking Writer’s Block, Part 1: Read

Have you ever sat at your writing desk wasting time instead of moving your fingers forward on the keyboard? This problem plagues even the strongest writers. The difference between the seasoned and novice writer, however, is in knowing what to do when writer’s block comes knocking on their door. The next dozen posts of WORDS ON THE LINE will feature tips on breaking writer’s block.

Here’s a first suggestion. The next time you’re pulling the hair out of your head, fingers paralyzed, unable to create the next word, try reading. Pick up a book by a favorite author, or browse a magazine or newspaper—anything—to connect yourself to language. The ideas you’ll get from reading may prove the perfect transition to your writing task. We are constantly associating ideas from one area of interest to another. For instance, you may be struggling over a how to best present an argument in favor of a controversial course of action for your business. Opening a passage by an admired writer—especially one in a discipline similar to yours—might just give you the inspiration you need. Or say you can’t turn a phrase the way you’d like. Shifting gears by thumbing through an interesting essay or op-ed piece might give you what you’re looking for: focused, artful, powerful, sentences.

To be a good reader you do not have to be a good writer, but to be good writer you have to be a good reader as well. Reading keeps you in the language groove.

Here are links to books on writing by Philip Vassallo: