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How I beat writer’s block

As I sat in the office writing this sentence, I had no idea what I wanted to write about this week.

After brainstorming potential ideas, using a blank sheet of printing paper to prepare to draw a spider web, I wondered to myself how could I get writer’s block like this. Normally, my column ideas come to me in the usual ways people get ideas, during a shower, from a dream or from something I found interesting on the Internet.

Then it hit me like a pitch hits a catcher’s glove. I can just write about the writer’s block I’m having right now, and how I usually get myself out of it.

Anybody who has spent a significant period of their lives writing in some form can tell you all about writer’s block. That burnt-out feeling you get when you run out of ideas to write about or the motivation to write in general.

In the past, I’ve found most of the work is done for me thanks to a tool that always has an indispensable place in my heart: a voice recorder. Ever since I started being a reporter, I’ve fallen into the habit time and time again of recording an interview I have with a person, transcribing it word-for-word and then reformatting a story by copying and pasting pieces of my transcribed document into the story document. Almost like putting together a puzzle.

That system, whenever I get to use it, makes writing articles almost second nature to me, even though sometimes it might be time consuming.

I also used a similar method when I wrote my first short story during the spring. First, I wrote my outline for the story. Then, I attempted to write each chapter using my voice to improvise into the voice recorder how I think the chapter should look like. Then, I type out what I hear in the recorder word by word, and make edits to touch it up before I send it to someone else to edit.

For columns, I usually have an idea in mind what to write about, and I draft out the details using a spider web. I use spider webs because of my high school ACT tests. I got an average score overall, but I got much higher on the writing portion than I thought I would and one of the things I did was take the time to draw a spider web to organize and visualize the points I wanted to make before writing, which felt like a breeze.

All of these strategies I’ve learned for writing have come in handy for me, especially on days like today. But a few extra tips I have learned along the way help me continue to put my finger tips to keys.

Other strategies include using my transcribed recordings (as I’ve already mentioned), start early in the day when your energy and motivation is at its highest, just write now and worry about spelling and grammar later, borrow from life experiences to fill the gaps and don’t add too much stress in your life to make you feel too overwhelmed to write.

Hey, look at that. My column is done.

Contact Orrin Shawl at

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