Balderdash! 12 Suggestions for Overcoming Writer’s Block (From Andrew T. Le Peau’s “Write Better”)

Writer’s block sucks. I’m currently facing it with regard to my dissertation and I’ve decided to hit pause on research and writing until I regain access to my library carrell at Wheaton.

Thankfully, I’ve come across some helpful advice on overcoming writer’s block in Andrew T. Le Peau’s Writer Better: A Lifelong Editor on Craft, Art, and Spirituality (affiliate link).

The book is filled with helpful and practical advice on writing, rewriting, publishing, etc. To whet your appetite, I’d like to share some of Le Peau’s tips for conquering writer’s block. These all come from chapter 7, pages. 72–80.

  1. Read lots of stuff. Fill up the tank!
  2. Keep an idea file. Gather tidbits whenever and wherever you can.
  3. Take notes on anything and everything.
  4. Copy the greats. Literally. Take out a classic passage and start copying it down verbatim.
  5. Get some rest. Do something different than you normally do.
  6. Play Balderdash. It’s good practice for coming up with words on the spot without overthinking.
  7. Don’t judge yourself just yet. First, write as a “Madman.” Anything goes! Then, go over what you’ve written as an “Architect.” Then, as a “Carpenter.” Finally, as a “Judge.”
  8. Hit pause, especially if writer’s block is due to a life event.
  9. If you are an extrovert, try talking things out with a friend. Then, if the friend is willing to stick around, try writing while they’re still there! (This might have to be adapted via Zoom these days.)
  10. If you’re a detail person, then research the crap out of your topic. Just set a deadline for yourself so you don’t research forever!
  11. If you can’t land the plane, find an accountability partner (“who is not a peer,” Le Peau specifies. “It needs to be someone you respect and will listen to, who has some authority in your life” pg. 79) and set a deadline.
  12. Remember that writing is difficult! You shouldn’t expect good writing to come easy.

Again, I really need to take Le Peau’s advice when I get back to working on my dissertation after the stay-at-home order is lifted in Illinois! If you find any of these suggestions helpful, or if you work with words in any way, I highly recommend that you read Le Peau’s Write Better! You should also check out his blog at https://andyunedited.com/.

By Joshua Steele

Software engineer using "dead" languages to help the living. Learn more at joshuapsteele.com.

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