10 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block


All writers experience writers’s block.  What is important is getting through it.  Some techniques will work for you, while others may not.  It is important to find what you are successful with and continuing to develop that technique or exercise.  Try each once or twice, then repeat the ones that gave you the best results.


Portrait of Zora Neale Hurston- Eatonville, Florida c 1940, Flickr Commons

Portrait of Zora Neale Hurston- Eatonville, Florida c 1940, Flickr Commons

10.  Establish a routine/set a goal


Many writers do not settle down to write until they feel like writing.  If you sit around and wait for inspiration to come to you, you may be waiting a long time- and get very little writing done.  Sometimes the act of writing is more important that what you actually write.  If you set a writing schedule and find a routine that feels comfortable to you, often inspiration will come.  Set out a certain amount of time and use that a time exclusively to write or at least work on your craft; don’t answer emails or cruise Facebook- for the time that you’ve set apart for writing, either write or work on being a better writer (more on this in #4).  If you are more goal-oriented, set a word or page goal–say 400 words five days a week– and stick to it.


9.  Warm up


Sometimes it is difficult to get into the right mindset.  I know that I have to completely change gears from writing my column to writing fiction.  To warm up, I use a legal pad and free-write for 10 minutes.  I don’t really concentrate on what I write as much as not taking the pen off the paper.  This can be a great way to address thoughts and duties that keep popping up into your head and prevent the creative juices from flowing.  My free-writing sometimes becomes a to-do list, others it is just a way to concentrate on a problem that has been nagging me.  Once I have done this, I feel like I have cleared my head and can focus on my writing, instead of whatever was on my mind.


Charles Dickens c 1865, Flickr Commons

Charles Dickens c 1865, Flickr Commons

8.  Write the ending 


If you are working on a great idea, but keep getting stuck at a certain point, try writing the ending first.  Once you know the goal you are working towards, it will be easier to figure out how to get there.


7.  Silence your inner critic/allow for failure


Many writers let their inner critic kill every idea before it even has a change to emerge clearly.  While you should look at your later drafts and final manuscript with an extremely critical eye, give yourself space to completely mess up in the beginning of the process.  I tell myself that I will probably chuck the manuscript of my first novel in the trash.  This gives me great freedom to mess up, write something stupid, something nobody–not even my grandmother who adores me–will like.  I write notes on a yellow legal pad and allow myself to cross out entire pages, circling the little gems that I want to keep.


This is how my best ideas have emerged.  I like to visualize my ideas amorphous, nothing is set in stone—because I can throw it in the trash, right?  I allow myself to go with my imagination and then say “nah…” and go back to some earlier point.  I ask a lot of “what if?” questions and come up with a few different answers.  I keep some, I discard others, but I go with my gut and ignore my critic.


Agatha Christie visits the Acropolis 1958, Flickr Commons

Agatha Christie visits the Acropolis 1958, Flickr Commons

6.  Try writing prompts


If you are completely blank, try a few writing prompts before you begin each writing session.  Here are some good ones:


writing prompts on tumblr


Writing prompts from Writer’s Digest




Writing prompts by Lasesana (me)


5.  Take note!


Ideas can come to you anywhere.  It is important to keep a small notebook with you at all times or a digital note file on your phone.  My best ideas come to me in the shower.  For a long time, I would keep a notebook on the sink and hop out to jot down my idea.  Predictably, I didn’t write down a lot of my ideas- especially in the winter.  A few years ago, however, I started writing a few key words on the glass shower door with the soap.  I can then transcribe my notes at my leisure, without having to freeze or interrupt one of my favorite activities.  Also, whoever goes in the shower next has the chore of washing the soap off the door- my shower door is always spotless!


Gertrude Stein 1914, Flickr Commons

Gertrude Stein 1914, Flickr Commons

4.  Hone your craft


My number one antidote for writer’s block is reading and learning about the writing process.  Also, writing these posts on writing has been extremely helpful.  When I read about others who are experiencing the same problems with their writing and how they have overcome them, I am immediately filled with the urge to work on my writing.  When I learn about a new outlining, character development, or plot technique, I can’t wait to apply it to whatever I’m working on.  Writing blog posts about writing has helped me more than anything.  I have been working on something for over two years.  However, I have made more progress in the last few months than I have since I began.  Mostly, it has been due to what I have been learning while writing these posts.  Here are some great sites on writing:


101 Best Websites for Writers (Writer’s Digest PDF)


KM Weiland’s HUGE list of articles on writing 


LitReactor Online classes, workshops, articles, etc.


3.  Get out and exercise


A brisk walk around the block, a 20-minute jog, or a class at the gym can do wonders for your writing.  Getting out of the house and a little oxygen to your brain can get the creative juices flowing.  If it doesn’t work, at least you got some exercise.


Victor Hugo c 1870, Flickr Commons

Victor Hugo c 1870, Flickr Commons

2.  Change your workspace


Sometimes a little change of scenery can do wonders for a writer experiencing difficulty.  Move your desk around, get a plant, take your laptop to the park, or change your chair.  Sometimes a little change or a big alteration can have a significant impact on your mood and your writing.


1.  Believe you will overcome it.


Don’t panic.  Everyone’s been there and almost everyone gets through it.  Nobody said writing was easy, but it’s not impossible.  Hone your craft and believe that if you work hard enough, you will be the writer you want to be.  Don’t freak out or think of it as the end of the world.  Go see a movie, re-read a passage from your favorite novel, catch an exhibit at your local museum.  Fill and replenish the well of creativity so that you can draw from it later.