A Quick Fix for Writer’s Block

We often don’t think about it once we settle into a routine, but the way we write—laptop/longhand; Arial/Times—affects what we write, for better or worse. Writers (and other artists alike) are at least aware that the creative process, whatever that may mean to each, has its own mysterious rules. As with religion, the opacity of the creative process both breeds and feeds superstition. To invoke its magic writers develop quirks of practice that in turn develop into habits. Some examples: writing only with 0.4mm black Pentel ink pens on grid-lined notepads, or writing only on Microsoft Word in 10pt Courier New.

What legitimizes artistic superstition is that it’s more personal than hand-me-down superstition. Rather than crossing some vague universal arbiter and breaking your mom’s back when you step on a crack, writing in a certain way really does affect how it turns out—for me it does, at least. I’m 100% sure there are psychological studies to back me up. For instance, I can soundly conclude that when I write longhand I write—arguably—better, because I’m less prone to lyrical flights of fancy. My writing is more minimalist because my mind has to wait for my body to catch up, so the compromise is economy. I’ve also noticed that my writing turns purple when I use more calligraphic fonts (the more ornate Garamond as opposed to the businesslike Times).

What my speculation on all this is leading up to is a quick-fix solution to writer’s block. When you don’t have the benefit of an extra pair of eyes to look over your writing, you can be that extra pair of eyes yourself. Do this by rewriting in another font, or longhand on paper, or if it’s fiction try rewriting it in another medium (prose rather than screenplay, and vice versa, etc.). This has done the trick for me on more than one occasion, so if you’re ever in need of a fresh start, try it out!

Posted by James


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