Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

February 6, 2015

For more than fifteen years, I wrote a weekly newspaper column that was published in three newspapers. Granted, that’s not many newspapers, but I had a following, so needed to make sure I didn’t let my readers down. There were times, however, I experienced writer’s block I had to overcome. Here are some tips to help when writer’s block hits you.

  • Remind yourself your ideas are there waiting for you to write them. Avoid any negative thoughts that you can’t write. You can. You’re a writer.
  • Take some writing action every day. When I taught my “Writing for Fun and Profit” series at two local colleges, I encouraged students to find thirty minutes every day to work on writing. Then we brainstormed what counts as writing. Could be research. Could be note taking. Could be writing. Could be editing. You get to decide what writing action you take every day.
  • Write about something that interests you. There’s a cliche that says writers are observers of life. Write about what you observed that you cared about enough to think about, try experience more of, or simply tell others about.
  • Allow yourself time to write before your deadline. Some people like the adrenaline rush they get from waiting until the last minute before meeting a deadline. Others like to get things done early, then take the remaining time to go over what they did and fine-tune it. If you’re not in the second category, consider trying it at least once.
  • Stare at the blank screen or paper. You read that right. If you want to write, but nothing is coming, just sit there in your writing space for as long as it takes to finally start writing. You may not be writing about what you sat down to tackle, but at least you’re writing. WARNING: If you use this tip, allow no distractions (phone, email, music, visitors, pets, etc. during your staring time).
  • Change your routine. If you write at a certain time every day, do something else during that time, then write at a different time. Try this for a few days.
  • Reward yourself. When our children were small, we hung charts on the wall for each one that showed things they were to accomplish (brush their teeth, make their beds, pick up their toys, etc.). At the end of the day, if they did whatever was listed, they got to place a shiny star in the box on the chart for that day. At the end of the week, they got a reward based on their accomplishments. What reward would you like? Lunch with a friend? Go to a movie? A quiet hour just for you? Once you decide on your reward, decide how you’ll earn it. Perhaps you’ll write four pages a day. Perhaps you’ll research your current topic for an hour. You get to decide.
  • Write in chunks. Sometimes the project we face is overwhelming because it’s so large. You’ll feel more in control if you think about writing a small part of the project. Could be a character sketch or a scene or dialogue or even a complete chapter. What’s important is that you break your big project into smaller pieces and work on those pieces.

If you haven’t experienced writer’s block, chances are you will one day. Keep these tips handy and use them when you need them. Happy writing!