Writer’s Block and the Angle of Approach

Have you ever stared at a screen for what seems like countless hours, only to come up with this?

I remember one day when I was in high school English, and we were given the assignment to write a paper on Voltaire’s Candide. There. In class. The teacher gave us the whole class hour to do it.

It should have been easy to write a paper on that poor excuse for a waste of time. I loathe that book. Can’t stand it. Never have. Never will. To me, its only contribution to the literary world was political satire.

You’d think, with my intense feelings regarding that book, that I’d have been able to write a paper on Candide blindfolded.

But I just sat there. Staring at my paper. And occasionally, I’d turn to my left, and stare out of the window, just for a change of scenery.

It was like I was trying to get a handle on what angle I wanted to take.

For me, that’s where writer’s block develops: how do I want to approach this subject? I’d assume that for some people, they develop writer’s block from this: what subject do I want to write about? But for me, that’s never been the case. I don’t write when I don’t know the best angle of approach.

Because, for me, the introduction is just as important as the message. If you don’t grab my attention in the beginning, then I won’t be intrigued, or my curiosity won’t be piqued, or my heart won’t feel connected, and I ultimately won’t read the rest.

Here are good examples of proper angle of approach:

“Marley was dead, to begin with.” A Christmas Carol, Dickens

“I was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia… My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings.” Up From Slavery, Washington

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tied. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men.” Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston

“It’s strange to see an Amish girl drunk.” Dug Down Deep, Harris

“Life is the tale of two stories – one finite and frail, the other eternal and enduring. The tiny one – the story of us – is as brief as the blink of an eye. Yet somehow our infatuation with our own little story – and our determination to make it as big as we possibly can – blinds us to the massive God Story that surrounds us on every side.” i am not but i know I Am, Giglio

“No one is ever really at ease in facing what we call ‘life’ and ‘death’ without a religious faith. The trouble with many people today is that they have not found a God big enough for modern needs.” Your God Is Too Small, Phillips

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.” Let the Nations Be Glad, Piper

Sure, several examples of different works. Some are fiction. Some are autobiographies. Some are books about a more fulfilling life with Christ.

The point is, if you write, if you speak, if you create,

approach your work with the right angle, and people will gravitate towards that.

How do you get past writer’s block? I’d love to know!

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