Bio: Andy Anderson is a senior at Greenville College. He’s a double major in English and Communication, and has been the head content editor of The Scriblerus the last two years. Along with writing, Andy is a part of Greenville’s improv comedy team, Joyous Chaos.
We’ve all been there, we sit down to write a paper, a short story, or a poem and our mind becomes the “blank space” that Taylor Swift is always singing about. Even as I’m writing this blog I feel mentally spent, but thankfully I’ve developed three helpful tips to combat the villain that is writer’s block.
1. Write a paper sarcastically.
I learned this tip from one of my best friends, Joseph Hubbs. As Communication majors we often shared frustration about the amount of papers that were assigned. Eventually, Joe grew so frustrated with our work load that he developed a hilarious and effective pre-writing ritual. Joe’s ritual was to craft a completely sarcastic paper, before beginning his real work. As a result, he released all of his pint up frustrations all while stimulating his creative mind. So when it came time to write the real paper Joe was always ready and free of writer’s block.
When writing creative pieces such as short stories, poems, or novels it’s important to eliminate any psychic distance between you and your characters. I’ve found it fairly difficult at times to envision my characters in unique and holistic ways. An excellent tool for character development is playing improv games. As a member of Greenville College’s improv team, Joyous Chaos, I’m no stranger to playing outlandish and down-right strange characters on stage. However, my quirky character acting doesn’t stop on the stage of Ladue Auditorium. When I find myself stuck in analytical muck, unable to create anything imaginative I take an “improv break.” Improv breaks generally consist of me randomly trying out new unorthodox characters with my roommates. I use the time to completely immerse myself within the role I’m playing. A few characters I’ve tested are a sixty year Canadian mechanic named Jim, a gab girl from NYC named Andrea, a motivational speaker who sells wieners at the ballpark, and a snobby modern day philosopher. Portraying a strange assortment of characters works as practice for my character development as a writer.
3. Stand on a chair and eat dry cereal.
My freshman year of college my roommate always used to tease me for my strange habit of standing on my desk chair. He knew that every time I stood on my chair I was experiencing creative constipation. Often times I just needed to standup and look at something other than my computer screen. So, I discovered that doing something as simple as eating some food while in a stand position was like turbo lax for my creative bowels. It wasn’t the act of eating dry shredded wheat that freed me from the shackles of writer’s block. What truly liberated my mind was giving myself a couple uninterrupted minutes of thoughtless drooling silence.