Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blogging to Overcome Writer's Block by Gerald Arnolds

Today I'd like to welcome Gerald Arnolds to Two Ends of the Pen.  Writer's block is something almost every author encounters in their writing career.  Gerald Arnolds is a writer living in Seattle, Washington.
For almost everyone, it's much easier to choose not to write than to write, and extended periods of not writing can quickly give way to the feeling that there's no reason to write or, perhaps worse, the sensation of writer's block. Being unable to find a publisher for one's projects can quickly intensify the feeling and lead to long periods of creative hibernation; the combination of frustration and inactivity can easily send an aspiring writer into a long, slow decline.
Blogs, then, can serve as a point of reconstruction. They can provide writers with a way to find an audience without the assistance of a PR campaign, with the space to write what they want without the constraints of an editor, a word limit, or a deadline looming on them. A blog can, in the right circumstances, yield far greater revelations or truths than other attempts at writing through its total lack of constraints, and one's discoveries within the format can then become focal points to explore elsewhere. 
Countless blogs serve to force writers into action by choosing one exercise to focus on, exploring it in every possible way to hone their craft and take it into unexpected territory. Some bloggers have chosen to use the medium to write reviews, for example, but rather than shooting for a handful every month, write something brief about a different product (perhaps meals eaten, films seen, books read, records listened to, or something similar) every day. In doing so, the writer learns a huge amount about how to bring variety into what could otherwise be a dry exercise while also likely expanding their own palette and becoming more adventurous in their field of exploration.
Other writers complete responses to month or yearlong sets of writing prompts, leading to lengthy responses on a variety of potentially unexpected topics and perhaps yielding a surprising source of inspiration along the way. Over time, such a project will likely reveal a writer's strengths and weaknesses. It will also show a course of clear development over that prolonged period of time, as the writer settles into the process of working and self-editing on a regular basis. Furthermore, the writer can benefit from the instantaneous feedback that an audience can provide through comments, analysis of how many readers one has (and what gets read the most), and if or where one's pieces get redistributed. 
Finally, the process of blogging helps to destroy writer's block because in almost all circumstances, bloggers have to produce content on a regular basis in order to maintain that readership in any way. Writing on an inconsistent basis can quickly cost someone his or her audience, and the Internet's contradictory mindset of being both starved for new content and having long ago reached a saturation point doesn't help this. As a consequence, writing for an online audience is almost invariably a case of sink-or-swim; choose to get moving and good things could very well come from what's currently keeping you away from your best work.


  1. As a novelist and sometime newspaper journalist, I find blogging a rather unexpectedly satisfying combination of both. I also like the instant publication aspect!

    I don't know about writer's block, but have a horrible suspicion that there might be such a thing as blogging block which means too much online fun could get in the way of cracking on with the next novel...

  2. Deborah, you bring up a great point.

    Blogging is fun, although scheduling guests posts etc. can sometimes be time-consuming which in turn takes time away from working on that next book! It's a balancing act that I think many of us do.


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