Thursday, September 26, 2013

Writing Tips from NCTE, Part 6: Overcoming Writing Inefficiencies

The NCTE tips on overcoming writer's block are practical for writers of any stripe. When facing deadlines under pressure, I have used three of these techniques to excellent results (making a list, taking a break, and giving yourself a direction). 

Free-writing is another proven practice for breaking through writer's block that does not appear on the list but is especially useful for business writers. This practice expects of the writer quantity, not quality. Just write freely, producing words on the screen or page without the definite aim of a perfect draft. In other words, you might try writing the first draft with your heart and then the second draft with your head.

Another strategy that I mentioned in previous WORDS ON THE LINE posts is reading. Nothing inspires me to write more than reading writers whose style I admire. So when I'm stuck at the keyboard, I walk away and pick up an essayist like James Baldwin or Joan Didion, a novelist like Nikos Kazantzakis or John Steinbeck, a playwright like Yasmina Reza or Sam Shepard, or a poet like Stephen Dunn or Gabriela Mistral. Whoever your favorites are, use them when you need them most.