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Guest Post: Beating Writers’ Block by Lucy Pilkington

If you’re feeling “blocked”, Bang2writer Lucy Pilkington has some exercises she learnt on her screenwriting MA… Enjoy!
Many writers suffer from this affliction from time to time. As a student I find this happens more often than I wish to admit and it always strikes at the worst times, usually before a deadline. Then panic ensues and I always end up writing drivel. Every time I do this I swear (like many of us do) to myself that next time I will section off more time to write and this time I will stop blaming writers block.

These are some of the ideas I have been given to generate ideas and get your creative juices flowing.

“Animal that wants to become another animal” – This was used as an exercise on my Masters course that I have found useful. Pick three animals. Your ultimate favourite animal, then use the next two of your top ten. For example Jaguar, Dolphin and Cat. Then remove the middle animal so you have just two remaining, the first animal wants to become the third animal using the example the Jaguar wants to be a Cat. Once you have the two animals you can begin free-writing.

Object story – Create a list of random household objects on little pieces of paper fold them up and mix them. Select four out of the mix and use them to create a little narrative, give the character an everyday task to do, washing the dishes or walking the dog. This gives your character a reason to move around and perhaps even change rooms to see all of the objects. This is usually easier to do in the first person but it can work in the third person.

Character pictures – Find a picture of a person, any person, on the internet or in a magazine. Think of a scenario to put this person into this can be as adventurous or mundane as you want. How do they react to this situation? For the first time with this it’s useful to use a situation that you are familiar with so I tend to think leaning to the mundane is more appropriate. If you find it difficult to pick your own picture, or think that you will choose one that will make your life easier it may be better to get an outside party to pick one for you.

Use an object to describe a room – Another exercise used on the Masters degree. Pick an object in a room you remember from your childhood or a later point in your life. Describe the object without stating exactly what it is, then radiate out around the object, where is it in the room? What other objects are next to it? Keep going outwards until you run out of room.

These can be used to stimulate ideas for scripts, novels or poetry. Some of the characters I have generated from these short stories I have developed into characters for scripts or have become a background character. Whatever the outcome they get me writing and hitting my word counts.


Avoiding Writer’s Block by Me

Free Writing by Sam Caine

Gordy Hoffman’s Bluecat Workshop Writing Exercises

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2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Beating Writers’ Block by Lucy Pilkington”

  1. Thanks, Lucy, great exercises! Loved the “animal” one. On my website for students I sometimes provide some exercises for beating the writer’s block, and I wanted to add some value in here as well. Here are some exercises I use when experiencing a writer’s block:
    1) Magazine Puzzle
    I cut out a few interesting headlines, phrases or images and put them in a bowl, then pull out a couple of those and write a 200-words story using them.
    2) Your First
    Describe your first romantic relationship, your first bike ride, trip, etc.
    3) Dictionary.
    Open a dictionary on a random page, pick a word and write an imaginary definition for it.
    Hope these will help!

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