The diagnosis: So, you’ve been staring at the same blank page for days on end, and how many words do you have? Two sentences that you keep rewriting? And every time you finally get something out you erase it just as soon as it hits the page, you say?
Ah, just as it sounds. It seems to be a rather severe (but common) case of the much-feared “Writer’s Block.”
Don’t worry, WB is by no means a fatal diagnosis. The only side effect sufferers usually experience is a temporary loss of their sanity. Luckily, if you contract “the block” there is a cure, several cures, in fact, according to some of your fellow writers, a few of which are the best to ever bring word to page. From a range of writing techniques, immersing yourself in different environments, to a plethora of bubbly concoctions to cultivate inspiration, here is your list of at-home remedies to help cure your Writer’s Block today from seven different writers. Your treatment options are as follows:
Ernest Hemingway’s “one true sentence”: A former correspondent for the Kansas City Star and the Toronto Star, Ernest Hemingway was acquainted with both the journalistic writing style as well as his critically acclaimed prose writing that generated much of his success. Being of the most successful writers of the 20th century surely did not mean Hemingway found himself immune to Writer’s Block, however. Hemingway had multiple remedies for overcoming “the block” like his self-motivational method where he suggests,
“Stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”
Not into self-philosophy? No problem, for a more aesthetic cure, Hemingway suggests “sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made.”
Lauren Brill’s POV change-up: Lauren Brill has also grappled with “the block” from two different worlds of writing. With her roots in sports journalism, writing for ABC Cleveland, CBS Buffalo, New York’s MSG Varsity, and NBA.com, she launched The Unsealed, a platform where writers share their stories in the format of “open letters.” Brill, who created the platform to share her own story about sexual assault prior to the Me-Too Movement, was determined to create a safe space for others to share their stories through writing. Though her passion for sports journalism and inspirational writing led her to found her own successful startup, Brill is no stranger to Writer’s Block.
“Sometimes it’s easier to get things out why I write in first person and stop overthinking things,” she said of her makeshift cure. “I sit down and write what I feel.”
Pent-up ideas swell and swell until the sufferer is full of creative excess yet rendered unable to speak. Brill finds that a change in perspective is just what the doctor ordered.
Maya Angelou’s six secrets: Maya Angelou’s meticulous writing routine consisted of an intricate and specific checklist before she began doing what she did best. In a 1990 interview with George Plimpton of the Paris Review, Angelou revealed that in order for her creative process to commence fully, she needed to lie on her bed (perfectly made, of course) surrounded by six tools to aid in her bouts of block: a dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, yellow pads, an ashtray, and a Bible. The sixth and most valuable tool? A bottle of Sherry.
“I might, six-fifteen a.m. just as soon as I get in,” she said, “but usually it’s about eleven o’clock when I’ll have a glass of sherry.” Sticking to her preliminary routine intercepted the block before it became too severe.
Ram Krishnan’s WB Rehab: Just what the doctor ordered! Ram Krishnan has been part of the Philadelphia bar scene not only as a fond patron looking for an escape in a glass but as an owner too since 2017. Krishnan, whose primary career is not in writing, has his own personal remedies for WB and is committed to promoting “awareness” for the illness, so much so that he named his bar, Writer’s Block Rehab.
“For me, it is doing something completely different, Krishnan says, “a change of scenery and also hanging out with friends. Finding the means to refresh the brain.”
While a change of scenery and time spent with friends is his favorite flavor of medicine to ease the head cold that is Writer’s Block, Krishnan knows his remedy is not for everyone.
“On our menu, we have the top 10 things to cure Writer’s Block,” he says such as the Doctor Ordered (vodka, apple, kombucha, sage, and prosecco) or the WBR Sour Mule (vodka, ginger, shrub, and lime) as well as a chaptered menu of creative cocktails to unblock any writer.
Scott Fitzgerald’s Gin Rickey: No writer grappled with the dreaded block more than F. Scott Fitzgerald and his remedy was no secret: Gin. Lots of it, preferably consumed in “long greedy swallows,” as he puts it in his most renowned work, the Great Gatsby. He once even called alcohol the “rose-colored glasses of life.” Fitzgerald favored the 20’s famous drink, the Gin Rickey, to stimulate his derailed mind because gin was thought to be undetectable on the breath. While his rate of consumption was by no means FDA approved, as it is thought to have contributed to his early death, before it became his crutch, Fitzgerald truly found inspiration in the bottom of his glass, saying of his favorite spirit, “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”
Bethany Belkowski’s nap-and-go: Student, Editor in Chief of the University of Scranton’s literary arts magazine, and amateur poet, Bethany Belkowski often suffers from a full plate and a full brain. In the life of an active college student, it is hard to find time to allot to find inspiration between academics and the subsequently less academic activities of college.
“A 9-15 minute nap,” she says.
“Before I fall asleep, I say whatever my thesis is in my head or whatever it is I’m trying to find an analysis for. Then I get up with my alarm and start writing. If it is a creative piece, I try to find different music to fit the mood of the piece and it helps.”
Lukas Sedlacek’s all or none: If you have been following the news, you may have seen the Lennon wall in Prague be overtaken by poems for Ukraine. The initiative is the product of Poetizer, a growing online poetry platform founded by writer, Lukas Sedlacek.
“What works for me is either to not push it or push it a lot,” Sedlacek says. A fairly paradoxical answer, there is a method to the madness of Sedlacek’s WB antidote.
“Sometimes it helps me to do other things and relax my mind, then nee ideas emerge. On other occasions, and most of the time, being tough on myself regarding meeting a deadline works, I perform the best under a high level of stress.”