Writer's block can really ruin a day. Not only does writer's block make an assignment take longer (causing you to make less money), but it also leads to undue stress, snacking, and frustration.
According to Eric Brantner, the editor-in-chief of MakeaLivingWriting.com, there are several different types of writer's block to contend with, not just one. "Once you know what type of writer’s block you have, you can then come up with the right plan for overcoming it," says Brantner. "Are you simply burned out? Are you scared of criticism or rejection? Are you uninspired? Are you lacking some key piece of information on the topic you’re writing about?"
Brantner says that once you figure out the type of writer's block you have, you can more easily devise a plan to overcome it.
We reached out to writers around the world to find an answer to the age-old question, "What's the cure for writer's block?" Dozens of writers were more than happy to share their ideas and personal cures.
Take a read through the suggestions. Have you tried any of them? Do they work? Do you have a new idea to share? Let us know in the comments!
When I have writer's block, it helps me to write something completely different than my current project. A short story, a poem, or even a research piece. Changing genre is often enough to get my creative juices flowing again.
The best way I've found to cure writer's block is getting out of the office/house and living life to the fullest. Go get some coffee, hang out with a friend, visit relatives, see a movie, go shopping, take a walk, go on vacation! Sometimes getting out of your head is just what you need to re-center and feel like you are ready to tackle your project again.
I move on to a different writing project. Sometimes the words flow better when I shift my focus. When that fails, I'll do some research or put together an outline for another piece. That way, I'm still productive without having to force words onto a page.
I write a really terrible first draft, knowing at least I'll have something to work with and edit (a lot!) later on.
I do more reporting. I find that if I cannot write something nonfiction, it's usually because I haven't done enough reporting and thinking yet.
When really stuck, I turn to another task, massage ideas around in my head, and come back to the page with a fresh point of view.
To help cure and relieve writer’s block, I put on a lengthy techno mix - one that’s strictly instrumental and classically inspired. The set time limit and story arc of a well-crafted mix can alleviate anxiety and create a trance-inducing level of focus and rhythm when writing.
I change the sheets on my bed and grab some clean towels. Then I shower, shampoo my hair, blot dry and get between those pristine percales (100% cotton only!). Especially lovely during daylight hours. It’s like a baptism. I may or may not fall sleep, but pristine and purified ideation follows.
I write my headings first and add any relevant points from my research under each heading. This way I am filling in the blanks instead of staring at a blank page.
To break through writer's block, make an extra effort to get enough sleep, take a long, hot shower, and stay away from sugary foods that make you dull and sleepy. If this doesn't work, try narrowing your story and dealing with only one part of it at a time.
The best cure for writer's block for me (and my other creative pursuit) is ballet. If I'm ever feeling stuck, I either take an online class or head to the studio. Having a creative, and exercise-based activity, helps me reset and find my words.
One way to handle writer's block is to write the ending first. Then, figure out how to get to that ending. And, when you are doing your writing, if you don't like the ending, change it.
I've noticed that the creative part of my brain works better when I eat. Whenever I feel stuck with an article, I reach for a snack or eat my lunch in front of the computer. This tactic usually helps me get out of a creative dead end.
The best way to relieve writer's block is summed up in three words: take a break! There are a million ways to take a break, but the important thing is getting away from screens and taking a few minutes to rest your mind. Taking a walk is a good idea, or playing with your dog outside is another. If possible, having a hot shower can do wonders!
The best solution I have found for writer's block is to track my time. Currently, I am using a time-tracking app to help me. Anytime I get stuck, I stop tracking time, get a five minutes break, and switch to another task for 25 minutes. It could be reading or researching for other project, or taking a lesson on one of my favorite courses. After taking a break, and focusing on another task, I start writing and don't stop for the next 25 minutes. Overall, I get a lot of my work done this way.
I take a break from writing and talk about my ideas with someone in my close circle. It usually opens the gate to a lot of ideas.
I go to Pinterest and search for something similar to the topic I'm attempting to write about. I do some research and find inspiration from other writers and they help get me excited and started on whatever project I am working on.
Imagine that the world around you is alive: your clothes are alive; your furniture is alive; the wind is alive. If you were a rock, how would you write? If you were a tree, how would you write? I tried it with a countless number of clients with great success.
Outline ahead of time: Do your thinking and organizing part the day before so that you can actually focus on writing when the time comes. Email your mom: Explain what you're working on to your mother in an email—she'll be glad to hear from you, and if you're lucky, you might be able to use some of it in your final submission.
When I have writers block I take a trip to Target. Target always has fun things to look at and it gets the creativity going again. Target is the writers block cure!
Break writer's block by finding inspiration in ordinary things again. A common item, routine moment, or standard practice - what if you could see these as more than ordinary? Creative thought happens here, and it's a sure-fire cure for writer's block.
You need to take a break and do something else. Personally, I love to take a walk in the evenings as that clears my head completely. The key is to detach yourself completely from writing for some hours.
Sometimes I type all the curse words that are in my brain, or sometimes I actually type a string of sentences on the topic I’m working on. But getting those first few words on the page usually helps open the floodgates to the real substance. One of my most effective tips is to not write at all. Instead I take the topic I need to write about and I meditate on it for just a minute. I lock it away in my brain, then I let the tip of the tongue phenomenon do its thing. I go take a shower, eat something indulgent, or go for a walk. I would say 75% of my writing takes place away from my computer. The other 25% is just opening the floodgates once I’ve got a decent amount of it written mentally.
Nothing cures writer's block like washing the dishes. Two reasons: Something about flowing water over the hands relaxes the mind and new ideas for previously unsolvable problems pop up. Second, after stacking the plates and silverware, getting back to writing is way more tempting than cleaning house.
Writer's block is not a disease that you should cure, but a result of other reasons such as stress, lack of inspiration, and distraction. To not get writer’s block, you should first find the reason why you’re experiencing it and then solve it from the core problem. If you’re stressed, you may need to take a break. If you lack inspiration, you might need to spend time reading books, watching movies, or simply going out to experience life outside your office to get that inspiration flowing. When you’re distracted, you might need to avoid what causes your distraction. Whatever the reason may be, there’s always a solution that only you can figure out. If things get out of hand, asking for professional help may be needed.
Join the company of other creative minds. What I love to do when I need inspiration is to go to open mics, concerts, sporting events, and art shows. I like to see what inspires other writers, athletes, artists, and performers. I will often engage in conversations with these performers or others who are attending these events. It’s amazing how contagious creativity is when you are surrounded by a group of creative people. People's enthusiasm for their craft will inspire you and bring out your creative juices. If you cannot surround yourself with creative minds, read about or listen to people who have creative minds.
Find a magazine or newspaper picture of someone doing something strange (the more ridiculous the better) then just start writing about that person. Make up a name, a background, motivation, etc. Set a timer and go for it – don’t overthink it, just have fun. This works every time!
Write on a sheet that already has writing on it instead of a blank one. This tricks the brain and can cure writer's block.
Try researching trending topics or headlines, or answer a question from someone seeking advice (editor note: you can even pretend that you are explaining your topic to a friend who wants to know about it).
Find something you like reading (fiction or non-fiction) and immerse yourself into the reading. Consuming somebody else's work has a way of inspiring your own!
Just keep writing and prioritize “production over perfection." Not every piece of writing will be your absolute best and that’s alright. Strive to write, no matter how little, to break out of the cyclic thoughts of perfectionism.
The best way to relieve writer's block is to write a little bit every day. Your skill as a writer is like a muscle, you need to flex it and exercise it or it will atrophy.
Reading is my inspiration to write. When nothing else works, I know that after reading a book my fingers just itch to write. This, for me, is the biggest tip to relieve writer’s block.
Sometimes I'm procrastinating. It's a real thing. Writing is hard work, and sometimes my mind behaves like a stubborn two-year-old that refuses to work. When I feel the urge to procrastinate, it's critical that I just start writing.
Writer's block is the way my subconscious tells me something is wrong with my story, so that's where I start. I write down questions and list out problems to determine what's wrong, then I brainstorm and dreamgaze until I get the answers I need.
I look at things that I know inspire me, which often means collecting books, art, music, and so on to dive into later. I also keep a morgue of my own old ideas that may not have worked for a previous project, but could be brought back to life as a new character, setting, or whatever it was that I loved enough to keep, but could not use previously.
Freewriting is a technique that helps me. I take a break from whatever article I’m working on and spend around 20 minutes writing anything that comes to mind. Totally random. Ignoring punctuation, grammar, or anything like that. I just write freely, without thinking about the result. You can do this for 20 minutes and straight away return to the article you were working on.
Set a 15-minute timer to write every day. As soon as I log onto my computer, my goal is to write as many words as possible in 15 minutes; I later record how many words I wrote. Many days it is a struggle, but it's the best strategy ever for breaking through the wall of writer's block.
Running through a writing exercise can help get around writer's block. Outside of the work, flesh out some of the backstories of major and secondary characters, or the location where the story is taking place. By not focusing on the story directly, it will give your brain time to work through whatever is holding the next piece back. Also, fleshing out the histories of your characters can help inform you of what they may do next in order to push your story forward.
I find that when writers block hits, I am often spending too much time staring at my computer. Inspiration comes with action. Find your passion, whether it is cooking, gardening, or working out. Creativity can be found in busy hands.
I plan ahead and map out the different sections and subheadings of the article before I start typing my first words. By doing this I create “mini-articles” within one bigger article, which is much easier to deal with when having writer’s block.
Work from a different place. During this pandemic, I have developed the habit of working from my couch, but sometimes taking my laptop to the front porch and working can help cure my writer's block.
I meditate every time I get writer's block. We need to clear out all the excess thoughts and negativity in our heads that might be causing the block, which is why meditating can help bring us back to our senses.
I first break my blog post down into paragraphs, outlining every topic I want to cover. From there, all I need to do is fill in the blanks. Works every time!
Sleep on it. Sleeping will help re-energize your brain for another round of creative output for seamless writing.
I read 3-4 articles about the same topic to cure my writer's block. It helps get my creative juices flowing and ensures that I don't just repeat what's already been said.
Don't give in to writer's block, but instead, start to write whatever comes to mind, and you can improve it in the editing process.
Go online and find 3-5 similar pieces of content. Pull the best ideas from those topics and then write them down as 3-5 word bullet points. Look at those bullet points and find a way to expand upon and add value to them.
I've always found writer's block comes from a place of frustration and worry. To combat it, you need to do the complete opposite, which is to go to a place of joy and possibility. I tend to find writing prompts a great way to do this.
My trick is simple. I answer one of who, what, when, where, why, and write a sentence. Then I write a paragraph around it. I answer the next one, and repeat. Then, I rearrange into a logical order, edit, fill in where needed and finish with opening and final paragraphs.
Stimulate your creative flow by free writing about something you have a personal connection to. This will inspire your creative juices because it is usually easy to reflect on something we actually care about.
I often realize that when I face writer's block, it is the result of fatigue and mental strain; both which can be cured with a nap. One of my favorite professors advised me to have a light snack, enjoy a nice warm cup of coffee, and take a nap with an alarm set for 15 minutes. The caffeine wakes you up, and the nap resets your mental cortex, which allows the words to begin to flow.
Most of us write on our computers and they can end up being a huge distraction. When I find myself lacking focus to write, I close all the programs, web browsers, and documents on my computer other than the one I'm writing on at the moment. This is usually enough to get me started writing.
Whenever I have a spark for an idea, I record the idea into the notes section of my phone, just to make sure I never lose it. Then when I am stuck, I choose one of the ideas from this list as the first sentence to a free write, and it will get my ideas flowing again.
When I run out of ideas, I either speak to prospects about their concerns or watch YouTube videos from experts to write down topics that are of interest to my readers.
When you feel that you are struggling with creativity or are obstructed by writer’s block, go back to reading your best work. This will help you recollect your best thoughts and your most effective writing style to begin fresh. Reading your best work will inspire the right confidence and zest in your writing.
I use a voice recorder app on my phone that dictates my voice in writing. When I walk or workout, I record myself talking about a topic. I often write content about that topic when I get writer's block.
Write as if you're composing a letter to your friend or family member, explaining everything they need to know to fully understand. Use a conversational style and explain what's involved in simple terms.
I've always found that listening to music helped with my writer's block as it takes away the stress and helps me to focus. If you find yourself distracted by the song lyrics, listening to instrumentals can be another option.