14 Prompts

Practice Writing Prompts that Inspire

Writer’s Block: How You Got It and How to Get Unblocked

I spent most of this morn­ing try­ing to fig­ure out what to write. I had four or five dif­fer­ent ideas for posts, all of which I threw out.

I’m blocked.

Overcoming Writer's Block by PhotoSteve101

The three rea­sons I am blocked:

  • Recently, some­one I respect crit­i­cized this blog.
  • Shortly after, I didn’t get a writ­ing job I really wanted.
  • Shortly after that, a writ­ing men­tor of mine said a piece I had writ­ten for him as a favor “needed a lot of work.”

Taken indi­vid­u­ally, none of these would have been that big of a deal, but together, they sent me down a shame spi­ral. It’s true. I’m a ter­ri­ble writer. I have no taste. I’m imma­ture. Everyone can read my blog now and see how much I suck. Yada yada yada. Shame shame shame.

The Secret to Getting Rid of Writer’s Block

The hard­est part of get­ting over writer’s block is to real­ize you’re blocked. Once you know you’re sick, it’s pretty easy to get through it.

You just have to allow your­self to write the worst sen­tence in the world.

Barry Michels is a psy­chol­o­gist in Hollywood who charges screen­writ­ers $375 an hour to fix their writer’s block.

He once told a screen­writer to kneel in front of his com­puter for one minute every day, pray­ing to the uni­verse for the abil­ity to write the worst sen­tence in the world. The screen­writer thought it was stu­pid, but a few months later he had writ­ten an Academy Award win­ning screenplay.

Why would you want to write the worst sen­tence in the world?

1. Because it frees you from perfectionism.

I wasted two hours of my morn­ing because I was try­ing to write the per­fect post, one that wouldn’t be open for criticism.

This is impos­si­ble and not worth the effort. Writing some­thing open and vul­ner­a­ble, on the other hand, is  worth the effort.

2. Because you can’t inspire yourself.

In February of 2009, best­selling author Elizabeth Gilbert made a fas­ci­nat­ing claim at the TED conference:

There is no such thing as genius.

Inspiration doesn’t come from you. It is a gift from some­thing out­side of you, and if you write ter­ri­bly, it’s not your fault. All you can do is show up, sit at your com­puter, and write.

3. Because it’s impossible.

Writing the worst sen­tence in the world is just as impos­si­ble as writ­ing the best sen­tence, but for some rea­son, when you inten­tion­ally aim to do some­thing awful, ter­ri­ble, sim­ply no good, for some rea­son it frees you to do your best work.

If you give your­self per­mis­sion to be a sucky writer, you allow your­self to be great.

Have you expe­ri­enced writer’s block lately? What caused it? How did you get out of it?

PRACTICE

Our goal today is to write the worst sen­tence in the world.

I want to see spelling and gram­mat­i­cal errors. I want to be bored read­ing it. I want you to write some­thing so bad that when peo­ple read it they think, “This guy / girl sucks.”

In order to write the worst sen­tence in the world, write for fif­teen perfect-free min­utes. Then, go through your writ­ing and look for the absolute worst sen­tence you wrote.

When you’ve found your worst sen­tence, have the courage to post it in the comments.

About Joe Bunting

Joe is a ghostwriter, editor, and an aspiring fiction author. He writes and edits books that change lives. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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