One simple definition of writer’s block is that it is a form of procrastination. Why the procrastination? What makes it so difficult to begin? If the writer doesn’t love writing why not just go do something else?
There are probably as many reasons for writer’s block as there are writers. One possible cause may be a traffic jam of ideas. Moving away from the computer and using paper and pencil to brainstorm can be one way to wiggle over, around, dig under or blast through this particular type of block. Some writers like to use a white board for this exercise. A chalk board could work too. The important thing is to give your mind a way to present those ideas in a manner that is free of judgment and criticism.
Go somewhere, anywhere, away from your writing base. If you decide to go outdoors, to a café, a park or hide out in the bathroom you need some basic materials to play with. You need a writing surface and instrument. A writing pad needs to be large enough to let your ideas branch and grow. The writing instrument can be black, blue or many colors, but the important thing here is to have simple tools ready for the exercise. This exercise is to let your mind offer solutions without any criticism.
A stopwatch of some sort would also be a good tool for this exercise. Have everything ready, paper, pen, comfortable seat, writing surface such as a clipboard or desk. Set the stopwatch for five minutes. You can do almost anything for five minutes.
Think about your project for a few seconds. Look at the blank paper. Enter the very first word that comes to mind. Put this word in the center of the page. Another word/idea will come as you do this. Put the word describing it somewhere on the page. Another will come. Add it. Do not censor anything. When a word/idea appears put it on the paper.
When the word you’ve put down sparks a word/idea that connects to that word, but not directly to the center word, then add it to the parent word and connect the two with a line. By the time the stopwatch beeps you should have a page full of ideas about your project.
There will also be a pattern to this exercise. It may look like a spider’s web, a solar system, a tree, a complicated map or some other meaningful pattern. This is not as random as it may seem. Your mind has been giving you a shape to your project, be it story or article. It is showing you the center of your project. From there you have your background/roots and basic outline.
Many of my brainstorm exercises seem to become a tree. There is the seed which puts out a root. Then there are more roots. A stem appears and a leaf. This branches out. By the time my five minutes is up I have the basic structure that shows me the core possibilities of my story or article. Subplots and connecting ideas have appeared as well as the main plotline. If your writer’s block isn’t broken by this exercise it is at least well-cracked.