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January 08, 2008



Ken --Thanks very much for responding to my email and collecting these strategies from working writers.I've printed this post and taped it to the wall so I can refer back to it when I'm writing. Or not writing, more likely.-- Your Protagonistwww.gaudypatter.com

D. McEwan

I'm of the "Don't think about it" school. Find a mindless distraction (Easy) and goof off until something pops. Porn is good. So are computer games. A couple rounds of SCRABBLE or an hour of ROLLERCOASTER TYCOON on the computer, frees up the creative part of my head.Often a nap works too. I find solutions and fresh ideas often popping during that lazy, half-awake/half-asleep moments after a nap. A Director once asked me for a complete rewrite of a play I'd written that he was going to stage, that involved restructuring it from three acts to two, and a bunch of other major changes. I put it out of my mind for two weeks, and then woke up one morning with the whole new, restructured draft flowing out of my head. I was seeing it all done in front of me. When the play was staged six months later, it basically was the play I watched in my bed waking up that morning.If I don't have the time to put it off to simmer, I just write it as is, badly, sleep on it, and then go back over it and fix it. Often I just write it straight, with no humor at all, and then, the next day, the jokes are there, telling me where they go.But as I get older, I find writer's block less of a problem, as I developed the faith that my own creativity is always there, and can't dry up. Having the confidence in myself to relax and just let it flow is the real secret.


In the 1970's, I wrote banal Norman Lears sitcoms. When stuck, I'd have Barbara and Julie and Schneider curse and do things wildly scatological. Read 30 years later, it's funny. Unless your wife or kids find it.

Doktor Frank Doe

Curing Writer's block? One word, Ritalin. On Ritalin I can focus down to a single fruit fly hovering about my head for four hours, it's wonderful!I start off by getting up at 3am, take a shower and head to Denny's where by the third sip of coffee that stuff has kicked in and away I go, fully concentrated, extaordinarily focused and highly productive, as long as there's no fruit flies around.

A. Buck Short

Elayne Boosler, Jennifer Fisher, Rob Long, Bill Kelly I’ve got just one word for you, lantzman! Sadly, I find writing to be my preferred method of procrastinating through life block. Some find sex to be an effective cure for writers’ block. I have been blocked since 1993.

Constance Reader

I had my first evening with a writers group the other night. I was having trouble working through a scene and was doing my usual humming, wild gesturing, cussing, growling and hitting things. My friend at the same table asked if I couldn't agonize quietly. I am very proud of my virtuous restraint in not replying "No, and if you can, you're not a real writer." Which may have been more true because nobody actually seemed to be writing. They ate, drank, socialized and read over their laptops, but they didn't write.The true answer, which I did give, was that this wasn't a problem when I could pace around with a cigarette in my hand. Unfortunately, I quit smoking. But yeah, for some reason, going for a long walk also works to burst the dams for me, too.But I got that scene worked out and written and cleaned up a few more. So even if everyone else is quietly not-writing, it seems a productive timeslot for me.

Gaylord Swaby

Thanks for writing about this. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who experiences this. I write scripts and music and encounter writers block in both realms sometimes. My advice: walk away from it. I think the mind works on problems or ideas subconciously when one is actively doing something else.

emily litella

I get Reuters Bloch...is this normal?


I've got two main options for writer's block, at least for news story/feature writing:1.) Write whatever sections you're comfortable with, or put down the quotes to be used in the story first, and then fill in the areas around them later, as you figure out some sort of unifying theme and/or lead for the story. You sometimes get a story that doesn't flow, but at least you're getting something down on the keyboard to work with (I suppose for comedy writing, the equivalent would be to take whatever premise/key scene/key gags you've got to start with, put them down on paper and then try to fill in around them to come up with a coherent story that makes those scenes and gags work).2.) Sit around putting things off by surfing the Internet or some other time-killing activity, until you're right up against deadline, and the adrenaline kicks in from the panic realization that you've only got 45 minutes to put something coherent into words. Fear of punishment/job loss can be a fabulous way to focus the mind and motivate creativity.


constance: Wait, there are writers groups in which writers actually sit around writing? And on their own projects, not a group project? That seems really weird to me.


well, when i wrote the only block i ever had was getting the lead PERFECT. you hear me, PERFECT. nothing less than - PERFECT.after that, everything came easy.yes, goddamit, IT ALL CAME EASY. YOU HEAR ME, EASY. AND PERFECT.did i mention i no longer write?

Anxiety Medicine

I always find just going for it is the best approach - even if what I am writing is total nonsense - I know I can just chuck it in the bin - but eventually I will hit on an idea or start writing something that is half decent - And you are right when you get going it is the best part of the day!

dental care

i like this part of the blog:"My work days usually find me trapped between the twin
tensions of my inherent laziness and my increasing
self-loathing that I haven't done anything yet.
Eventually, the self-loathing desperately overtakes me
and I start feverishly working." is very good, you should add some pictures....

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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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