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  • Writer's pictureKara M. Zone

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Write

For about twenty-seven years of my life, I had incredibly low self-esteem.

The esteem was a product of neglect, chemical imbalances, a personality disorder, and a toxic family environment. So, when I thought about what I wanted in life, I didn't think I could get it.

I wanted to be a writer for as long as I have known my thoughts. I enjoyed creating characters, stories, and expressions in words. But I never thought it could be mine.

Of course, that changed, and while I've been through a lot in the last twelve years, one thing that has transformed me most is that I don't know that I believe in writer's block.

It may sound weird, but as I've gone through some healthy life changes, I have become more confident in my ability to write with unabashed freedom, which shows I don't have to know what I'm writing. Sometimes, I just have to get the words out.

Psychologically, there is a phrase titled "Stream of Consciousness," developed by William James (older brother to Henry) in the early 19 century.

Consciousness, does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. Such words as “chain” or “train” do not describe it fitly as it presents itself in the first instance. It is nothing jointed; it flows. A “river” or a “stream” are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described. In talking of it hereafter let us call it the stream of thought, of consciousness, or of subjective life. (239; The Principles of Psychology “The Stream of Thought").

And between this metaphorical idea and the way that neurons are worth with the brain, there will be times when your brain will be overwhelmed with internal and external stimulation.

What is fun about that knowledge is that you can learn to help yourself when feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated. Another positive side effect of helping yourself in an instance like this is that you can use specific exercises to help your mind, even if it feels stunted or blocked.

When you feel writer's block, you can just put your fingertips on the keyboard or pen to paper and write. Don't write about anything, and don't make a plan. Just write your thoughts.

You do not have to show anyone your writing, nor do you need to review it (unless you want to). The purpose is to realize that not everything you/we write will be a golden egg and that getting comfortable with this idea means you are learning how to be nonjudgmental of yourself.

Which will also mean you're kinder to others too.

So it all works out. You won't be blocked. You will treat yourself more kindly and learn to be more compassionate toward others. It's pretty cool in the end.

Do you have some tips or tricks you use when writer's block knocks on your door? Share them below! Have something you'd like to talk to me about? Reach out to

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