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Sooner or later everyone experiences that dreaded WRITER'S BLOCK. It can sneak up on you or pounce on you suddenly, crushing your ideas and creativity. How have you escaped its clutches? Share with everyone your secrets to avoiding writer's block as well as how you moved beyond its grasp.

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The very best way to avoid writer's block is to join a writing group. Often there are classes available through Senior programs with your local Parks and Recreation facilities or at local universities and community college. If there are none, start one with your friends. My booklet "Memoing" My Memories: A Simple Technique for Writing Family Stories has been used in several writing classes as well as the information from my writing blog: http://writingyourmemories.blogspot.com/ Armed with these you can succeed in creating your own class if needed.

Being able to share stories gives us all more ideas on which to write. Writing is therapy and a class is a grand support group.

I have have a published writer in my class who had writer's block until she joined us. She is nearly finished with the draft of her next book. I have a class member who wrote only one paragraph when she first joined my class. She now writes 4-5 pages for each of her weekly stories. She moved from being a technical writer to a great humorist. I also have a member who tried two other writing classes until she found this one to be comfortable for her.

The key is not to give up.
Writing groups can be great. They can also be deadly.

Some likeminded people in the local area many years ago formed a writer's group, which I was also involved in. We had a local bulletin board (this was in the days of the old computer bulletin board systems (BBS), the days before the internet! Ah, those were the days, with our packets screaming along over the telephone lines at 300 bits per second . . .) We had a great and diverse group of people with open minds and a sense of humor. Since we live in Florida, we called our group Writers in the Sun (WITS).

Another woman I know in cyberspace, from a group of writing-interested people on the old FIDO echo (again the old computer BBS, when "sysops" (system operators) would pay telephone long-distance charges to forward packets of messages across the country or across the seas) ran into a group that drove her stark raving mad. They had rigid ideas of what one "should" do and spent a great deal of time "shoulding" in my friend, who, most of the time, had a better handle on how to write than these others in her group. That can be damaging to a writer.

So a group needs to be diverse, with people who have a sense of humor and a sense of reality, and who do not have rigid ideas about writing, but are willing to explore and debate and discuss without being bossy.

By the way, several of the people in the old FIDO Writing echo have gone on to be professionally published.

Including me.
To avoid writer's block, you must actively write. Have a routine and a required amount of time that you write. Even if no ideas come to you as you go through this routine, just keep writing that you have no ideas, over and over.

This sounds ridiculous, but I have seen it work with students. You get so sick of writing: I can't think of anything to write that you start on a topic.

Some people put topics on strips of paper in a jar and pull one out when they are stuck.
First rule for me is: don't obsess. That only makes it worse.

What I do is try to get away from it altogether by doing something else. I give it a rest, and give myself a rest.

After that, try to think about the particular item in another way. Is there nothing more to be said about the subject? Is there another way to approach it? How about arguing the opposite of what you've been trying to say? Another perspective can help, so I talk to my husband or my friends. They always have another view to offer. Or at least an impertinent question to ask (wink).
Find inspiration - from the internet you can -

Visit websites such as:
20th Century Nostalgia, when we were kids (UK) at http://www.wwwk.co.uk/index.htm
100 things your kids may not know about at
http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2009/07/100-things-your-kids-may-never...
America's story at: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi.....

Does anybody else have favourite websites for inspiration?

Liz,

Place these links on the page for links so everyone will see them.

Thank you,

Emily

I keep a journal and have done so for the eight or nine years. Sometimes my entries as just visual observations about what's going on in nature; other times they comment on current events and challenge me to explore my own beliefs. More often, the entries are reminscences, accounts of family events, stories that my mother shares with me. Currently she's the last link to our family roots in Ireland, so I want to preserve what she tells me. The journal keeps me in a reflective mode and often provides me with the material or the inspiration for a lengthier piece of writing.

Karen,

I agree, the make-up of the group is extremely important.  I run two class in Portland OR and the whole key is to set some guidelines and build camaraderie. My groups contain both male and females.  We have been known to attend funerals for a fellow writer, even.  Right now we are sending cards and reaching out to two members with cancer.  This is how close a class can be if the instructor leads it with compassion.  Some groups may not have a leader/facilitator.  Maybe that would help.

Maybe there only needs to be a recognition that each person has their own voice and that is equal to all others to prevent intimidation.  We take time to comment on what we like from each story, ask the person to tell more if they need to do so.  We only offer writing help if it is requested unless there is definitely something blatant. This criteria needs to be established from the beginning.

Hope this helps,

E

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