Tips for When the Cursor is Mocking You

If we write, chances are we’ve been there. We sit down at our laptops to construct something brilliant and end up staring at a blank screen. Then we stare some more. The cursor mocks us, and the more it blinks, the harder it becomes to put words on the page.

First, this is normal. There is nothing personally wrong with you when writer’s block comes. It’s simply an unwelcome part of the process.

As Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly, and sometimes it’s like drilling rock and blasting it out with charges.”

And he’s right. There are no rules, but there are a few practices that have helped me when the blank screen stares me in the face.

The next time the cursor mocks you, here are a few tips to try:

  1. Get away from your computer. Most writers I know type directly into their computer, although I do know a few who hand write their material and then transfer it over. But here’s the thing. Your blank computer screen will not fuel your creative juices. Get up, go for a walk, play with the dog, or whatever it may be for you. Do something other than writing. Take a notepad or your phone with a notes app. When the words finally arrive, record them in the moment.
  1. Read something. Pick up a book, magazine, or novel and dig in. Good writers read, and they usually read more than they write. While you don’t want to copy what someone else has written, you will find inspiration or perhaps a new angle on a topic you’ve been thinking about.
  1. People watch. Observe nature. Take in your surroundings. And by your surroundings, I don’t mean your blank computer screen. Get up and do life. Pay attention to the birds flying outside your window. Listen to your kids’ conversation – trust me, there’s plenty of fodder there – but exercise caution as your kids will one day read what you write, or eavesdrop on a conversation at the mall. There is inspiration all around.

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  1. Journal. It’s amazing how the words flow when we’re not worried about sharing them with anyone. While we may not share those thoughts written in private with anyone but God, they will provide a spring board later. They will replenish the soul and allow the Spirit to work.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. If you’re still hitting a roadblock, take some time off to recharge your batteries but set a time to return so that you’re not tempted to procrastinate.

Be yourself. You are the only you this world will ever have and faking it won’t get you anywhere. It will only exhaust you and make you want to quit.

God has given you a voice, a story to share, and a desire to write. If he’s called you to do it, he will equip you. Let’s push forward with confidence.

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